an blog | AJBlog Central | Contact me

Best Artworld News You’ve Had Today: Michigan AG Opposes Sales of Detroit Institute’s Art UPDATED TWICE

Michigan Attorney General Schuette

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette

UPDATE: Here’s the Attorney General’s full 22-page opinion.

There’s a ray of hope regarding attempts to monetize the Detroit Institute of Arts’ masterpieces to help solve the city’s financial ills: This just in from Chad Livengood of the Detroit News:

In an official opinion released Thursday [today], [Attorney General Bill] Schuette said Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr cannot sell off all or parts of the DIA’s multibillion-dollar collection to help pay off the city’s $15.6 billion in debts and long-term liabilities.

“It is my opinion, therefore, that the art collection of the Detroit Institute of Arts is held by the City of Detroit in charitable trust for the people of Michigan, and no piece in the collection may thus be sold, conveyed, or transferred to satisfy City debts or obligations,” Schuette wrote….

In the 128 years since the creation of the Detroit Institute of Arts, at no time have the people demanded that their most precious cultural resources be sold in order to satisfy financial obligations.”

The AG’s opinion had been sought by the same state legislator who had introduced a bill (now stalled) to protect the DIA’s collection.

But don’t breathe a huge sigh of relief, art-lings. As has been repeatedly noted, federal bankruptcy law may still trump anything the state’s legislature or its AG might seek to do.

A moment of truth may come tomorrow, when “Orr convenes a meeting of 150 of the city’s creditors to propose a plan to restructure the city’s debt and keep Detroit out of bankruptcy court,” in the words of the Detroit News‘ article.

If I get a link to the AG’s full opinion, I’ll update this post.

UPDATE: Mark Stryker of Detroit Free Press weighs in, here.

an ArtsJournal blog