Detroit creditors request independent evaluation of DIA artwork in move that could lead to sell off

DETROIT (WXZ) - A number of Detroit's largest creditors have filed a motion in federal court asking Judge Steven Rhodes to take the first steps towards selling city owned art at the Detroit Institute of Arts.

Three major creditor groups, Wall Street Bondholders, European Banks and Detroit Largest employee union AFSCME filed a motion asking that a committee be formed to look at this sensitive issue. 

The motion asks Rhodes to appoint a committee to oversee an independent evaluation of the art.

Selling the art has been floated as a way to settle Detroit's debt, but this is the first time it has been taken into court.

Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes will rule next Tuesday whether Detroit is eligible to continue in bankruptcy court.  If Detroit is not eligible, this would be a moot point in bankruptcy. 

If eligibility is the ruling, the sale of art would come up during a reorganization plan put forward by Detroit officials. They have said they will have that ready by the end of the year.  

Bond insurer  Financial Guaranty Insurance Company released the following statement about the court filing:

A responsible, transparent and collaborative approach needs to be taken to addressing the value of the DIA collection. A committee made up of the City and all major creditor constituencies provides the best path towards a fair and timely compromise which would offer the best possible outcome for all parties.

Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr has contracted with Christie's Auction House to conduct an evaluation of the DIA art. However, Orr has said in the past that he does not want to sell of the art.

The Christie's appraisal is not yet completed.

Orr has testified that the city owns 35,000 of the DIA's 66,000 pieces of art. 

The museum has argued that selling the art would hurt both the city and the Detroit Institute of Arts in the long term.

Leaders in Macomb, Wayne and Oakland counties have also threatened to withhold property taxes that were put in place to help fund the DIA if the art is used to pay off Detroit's debt. Those measures were passed by voters in the three counties in 2012.

Print this article Back to Top