Friday 26 July 2013

Detroit - the nightmare continues

By way of update to Detroit's financial woes, reported here, many will have heard that the city has now filed for bankruptcy.

The Detroit Institute of Arts, nevertheless, remains at the centre of the debate as to how the city could reduce its debt.

The Art Newspaper reports that "At some point in the past two months, Christie’s auction house sent two employees to Detroit to assess DIA’s collection...The auction house did not show up uninvited, according to a source familiar with the situation, but it is unclear who requested Christie’s services."

It is still unclear, however, whether the city is entitled to use the art collection in this way. The Art Newspaper explains the situation:
"Unlike most museums, DIA’s collection and facilities are owned by the city, which makes them vulnerable to creditors if Detroit successfully files for bankruptcy...But according to many museum advocates, as well as the Michigan state attorney general Bill Schuette, the collection is not a traditional asset because it is held in a charitable trust for the people of Michigan. The city, according to a formal opinion issued by Schuette on 13 June, is “limited to using the assets for the designated purpose of [the] trust” — in this case, the acquisition of art.  
Whether the attorney general’s opinion amounts to state law is open to interpretation and could be subject to a legal fight...A bill to protect the collection, passed by the state Senate on 11 June, currently awaits a vote in the House of Representatives." 
Thus, it remains a case of wait and see.

Source: The Art Newspaper, 24 July 2013

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