News / USA

Deal Emerges to Save Detroit Institute of Arts Collection

Deal Emerges to Save Detroit Institute of Arts Collectioni
X
January 21, 2014 11:59 PM
The Detroit Institute of Arts Museum houses one of the top art collections in the world. So when Detroit went bankrupt, that collection - owned by the city - became one of the most controversial issues in the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, an emerging deal with several national foundations offers city officials a way out of the crisis, and could ultimately save the museum and its valuable collection
Kane Farabaugh
The Detroit Institute of Arts Museum houses one of the top art collections in the world.  So when Detroit went bankrupt, that collection - owned by the city - became one of the most controversial issues in the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history.  An emerging deal with several national foundations offers city officials a way out of the crisis, and could ultimately save the museum and its valuable collection.

The art collection housed in the Detroit Institute of Arts Museum, or DIA, draws throngs of visitors from around the world each year.

“You can tell the story of Western art through this collection," said Mark Stryker.

Which makes it hard to put a price tag on it, says Detroit Free Press Art Reporter Mark Stryker.

“It’s invaluable, irreplaceable," he said.

But a price is the very thing Detroit’s emergency manager Kevyn Orr seeks as he takes the city through bankruptcy, says Wayne State University Law Professor Laura Bartell.

“At the very beginning of this bankruptcy, Kevyn Orr made it clear that the city of Detroit owned the assets of the DIA," said Bartell.

“It is a city owned collection, and that makes it different from almost every other museum in America, which operate as independent, private nonprofits," said Stryker.

As the complex bankruptcy case winds through federal court, Orr enlisted Christie's auction house to value the collection, with one important caveat.

“He asked Christie's to specifically evaluate only the works in the collection that were bought by the city directly," said Stryker.

That translates into about 2,000 items, roughly five percent of the DIA’s 66,000 works.  But it does include some of the premiere pieces, including Vincent Van Gogh’s “Self Portrait with Hat.”

"Christie's evaluated those works to be worth somewhere between $450 million up to about $870 million," said Mark Stryker.

In 2012, voters in three surrounding counties supported a property tax hike to fund the museum in exchange for free admission.  Stryker says any sale of the DIA’s assets could inflict more damage than simply losing its important pieces.

“They would rescind the tax if any of the art was sold, so that means that any sale would quite quickly lead to the closure of the museum," he said.

Which means emergency manager Kevyn Orr was stuck between a rock and hard place.

“Would you want to be the man who went down in history as the man who destroyed the Detroit Institute of Arts?  I don’t think anybody wants to be in that position.  If he can craft a plan of adjustment without selling the DIA’s assets, he’s going to do it," said Laura Bartell.

That plan got a boost in January from several national foundations, including the Ford Foundation and the John S. and James. L Knight Foundation.  Together, they’ve pledged about $330 million to keep the DIA’s assets off the auction block.

“The DIA would be spun off from the city to create a separate nonprofit, separate from city control so this kind of situation, the city would never find itself in this situation again," said Stryker.

The amount pledged does fall below Christie’s appraisal of the items, and creditors could seek more money.  But the proposed deal offers Orr a way out of the crisis, and Stryker says it is the most promising option on the table to keep the DIA’s art in Detroit.

You May Like

UN Watchdog Urges Israel to Probe Possible Gaza War Crimes

More than 2,100 Palestinians, most of them civilians, were killed in a 51-day war in Gaza, along with 67 Israeli soldiers and six civilians in Israel More

New Kenyan 'Thin SIMs' Poised to Transform African Mobile Money

Equity's new technology is approved in African nation for one-year trial, though industry leader Safaricom says thin SIMs could lead to data theft and fraud More

Solar's Future Looks Brighter

New technology and dropping prices are contributing to a surge in solar power More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid