Detroit (WXYZ) - How much is the Detroit owned art at the Detroit Institute of Arts worth? It is a loaded question. The reason? It is being asked by Detroit's Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr.
Many in the metro-Detroit and the art world are afraid of the appraisal he has called for. They do not want the collection sold to cover the city's $15 billion debt.
Right now no one knows exactly how much the collection is worth. A rough estimate is approximately $3 billion. It is somewhat taboo to appraise publicly owned art, as there is the belief it should not be put on the market.
Orr has said he does not want to sell the collection. He is asking for the appraisal because he wants to defend it and know what the city is working with. Whether you like it or not, the art is an asset of the city. The city may be facing a bankruptcy filing. Creditors may call on the city to sell its assets.
Many works of art at the DIA were donated by collectors. They may have restrictions that prevent a sale. That information is important for the city to have in hand.
The DIA meantime isn't just sitting by while these questions are asked. It has hired a bankruptcy lawyer to advise it on how to protect the collection.
A statement released by the emergency manager's spokesperson, Bill Nowling said, "While there is no plan to sell any assets, it is possible that the city's creditors could demand the city use its assets to settle its debts. The emergency manager has alerted certain assets, including the DIA, that they might face exposure to creditors should the city be forced to seek Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection. This is a precautionary measure."