Art lawyer Nicholas O’Donnell has been following the Detroit bankruptcy trial closely. He recaps Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr’s testimony when Judge Rhodes pressed him on why he didn’t seriously consider selling the DIA’s art collection. Orr also revealed that he put DIA in play enough to see what the museum might be able to come up with. The resulting “Grand Bargain” was effectively found money to Orr, though he seems to have also looked at other ways to squeeze a few dollars from the art collection:
(this quote is from O’Donnell’s post on the testimony. Click through to have access to O’Donnell’s many helpful links)
Orr reportedly testified that he believes that a sale would harm the museum irreparably, spawn a legal battle that would take years to resolve (DIA has promised to fight any sales), and create a domino effect among donors and surrounding communities:
“In fact, my understanding is the endowment effort they’ve undertaken has taken a bit of a downfall as (donors) wait to see what happens,” he said.
As we’ve surmised, Orr’s hope all along in insisting that the collection play some role is the attempt to “some value I did not have at the beginning of this,” given that the Chapter 9 proceeding would not allow for any order to compel the city to sell the art against its wishes. “For me, that changed my perception of what was reasonable in terms of preserving a city asset and answering a question I’d always posed to the DIA and benefactors. We must have a solution to this problem and that provided a solution,” he reportedly testified. Asked by FGIC’s attorney if he had considered other ways to monetize the art, Orr said yes.