Detroit News columnist Laura Berman raises the specter of the city’s art collection housed in the Detroit Institute of Arts should be sold to raise funds for the city:
But as Detroit city officials frantically try to stave off state intervention, whether by consent decree, emergency manager or even municipal bankruptcy, the city’s dire financial situation raises once taboo speculation: Is the city’s timeless art collection immune from the city’s urgent need for cash? […]
The city of Detroit — not the Founders Society or any other entity — owns all the DIA’s works, from African masks to Ming vases to a 1950 Clyfford Still painting that’s the same size and style as one sold by the city of Denver in November for $61.7 million. The Museum of Modern Art in New York paid $50 million for one of Van Gogh’s portraits of Joseph Roulin more than 20 years ago; the DIA owns a similar portrait of the postmaster. […]
With a collective value beyond $1billion, the DIA has several works that might command $10 million to $100 million or more with the flick of a gavel. Yes, such a sale would be unlikely, inspire outcry and lawsuits, and violate the public trust that has enabled the museum to acquire art and donations from patrons for a century.
No, the city has no plans to sell art — at least not now. “The city understands the value of its cultural institutions, and that is not a part of the plan right now,” Deputy Mayor Kirk Lewis said in a statement.
DIA frets its art may be at risk (Detroit News)