an blog | AJBlog Central | Contact me

Litigation Nation: Bankruptcy Judge Allows Appeals (but Fodor’s puts art-rich Detroit on 2014 “Go List”)


While we breathlessly await this week’s expected final report from Christie’s on its appraisal of some 2,781 works in the Detroit Institute of Art’s collection, the legal wars over the city’s financial morass are escalating.

Matt Helms and Brent Snavely of the Detroit Free Press today report:

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes on Monday allowed appeals of two of his critical rulings [my link, not theirs]—finding Detroit eligible for bankruptcy and its pension systems subject to cuts to retirees—to proceed to the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals.

This is just the start of what will surely be a long, expensive legal nightmare unless all sides expeditiously come to the sensible realization that it’s in everyone’s best interests to negotiate, not litigate.

As Richard Levin, the bankruptcy attorney retained by the DIA, told us at the October panel discussion presented in New York by the International Foundation for Art Research:

If the process of restructuring and reorganizing the city is all litigation, the patient will die on the operating table. It just takes too long. So the very nature of bankruptcy is to try to get settlements. Litigation is used to posture and position people, but,…for the most part, these things get settled and that’s how a company or a city emerges from bankruptcy…

…the sooner the better.

I previously tantalized you—here, here and here—with excerpts from that illuminating IFAR colloquy, which was particularly notable for Levin’s rare public pronouncements about the DIA’s dilemmas. Now IFAR has helpfully posted a video of the entire Detroit Institute discussion, for which my own 9 1/2-minute CultureGrrl Video excerpt was merely a teaser.

If you want to deepen your understanding of the DIA’s complicated, evolving situation, you should set aside 110 minutes for IFAR’s full-length presentation.

And in more upbeat news: The Free PressEllen Creager reports that Fodor’s has named Detroit as one of its “buzzy hot spots” for travelers in 2014. Here’s what Fodor’s says about what it describes as “Detroit’s renaissance”:

A hip, new, cultural- and design-savvy Detroit is emerging from what remains of Motor City. Some compare it to hipster Brooklyn because of the microbreweries, coffee shops, organic bakeries, guerilla farming, forward fashion boutiques, and funky cocktail spots popping up all over town. Art is a big draw these days, especially as talk continues about whether the world-class Detroit Institute of Arts will have to sell off important works to pay Detroit’s creditors.

Clearly, losing its hive of masterpieces would make Detroit a whole lot less “buzzy.”

an ArtsJournal blog