The Detroit Free Press has more details on the Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr’s hiring of Christie’s:
Orr’s office will pay Christie’s $200,000 for the work, which is expected to be completed by mid-October. The appraisers will be be looking only at work clearly owned by the city, unencumbered by donor restrictions that might preclude possible sale, said Orr spokesman Bill Nowling.
Christie’s previously visited the museum in early June at the behest of Orr’s office, though Nowling said there was not a formal contract at that time between the city and auction house.
Annemarie Erickson, DIA executive vice president, said: “We are disappointed that Christie’s is taking this action, which could be contrary to the health of this museum.”
The DIA isn’t just talking tough. They’re digging in for a long fight:
The DIA has hired its own bankruptcy attorneys and would likely sue in the event that Orr tried to sell art. Michigan attorney general Bill Schuette has issued an opinion stating the art is held in public trust and cannot legally be sold, but bankruptcy lawyers have told the Free Press that it’s unclear how such a case would be decided.
The DIA issued a statement in which it say that the museum would be cooperating with Orr and Christie’s as part of the process of valuing the art. However, the statement also reiterated Schuette’s public-trust argument that the art cannot be legally sold as part of the bankruptcy proceeding.
“We applaud the EM’s focus on rebuilding the City, but would point out that he undercuts that core goal by jeopardizing Detroit’s most important cultural institution,” the statement said. “In addition, recent moves in Oakland and Macomb counties to invalidate the tri-county millage if art is sold virtually ensure that any forced sale of art would precipitate the rapid demise of the DIA. Removing $23 million in annual operating funds — nearly 75% of the museum’s operating budget — and violating the trust of donors and supporters will cripple the museum.”
Auction house Christie’s returning to evaluate DIA art (Detroit Free Press)