an blog | AJBlog Central | Contact me

Search Results for: detroit

Detroit Diatribe: My NPR Commentary Tomorrow on the Art Institute’s Predicament

If all goes according to plan (and it's already been postponed twice), I should be heard on NPR's "Morning Edition" tomorrow (along with other analysts), providing some commentary on the talks to preserve the art collection of the Detroit Institute of Arts in the face of the city's financial crisis. I was interviewed for this last Tuesday, but I'm sure the producer (and perhaps one of the other commentators) will provide an update on the most recent, upsetting events. … [Read more...]

Michigan Governor Suggests State Funds Could Go Towards Detroit Institute Rescue

The "Grand Bargain" is gathering momentum. In comments to the Detroit News editorial board yesterday, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder revealed that he "wouldn't be close-minded" to proposals to allocate state funds towards protecting the Detroit Institute of Arts, "if it were part of settling the case." Similarly, Kalamazoo-based radio station WKZO reported on comments by Snyder that he "is leaving the door open for state support of a fund that could save the Detroit Institute of Arts from creditors seeking cash from the city. The governor … [Read more...]

Appraising the Appraisal: Christie’s Sickening Potential Shopping List of Detroit Institute’s Art

In what has now become, for me, the most stomach-turning moment in the Detroit Institute of Arts/municipal crisis saga, the Detroit Free Press today has posted an interactive feature (to which I refuse to link) that features images and the purported "fair market values" of 30 highlights from the 2,773 DIA works appraised by Christie's at the behest of Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr. As I commented to journalist Mark Stryker yesterday, for today's Detroit Free Press article parsing the appraisal, "those who believe the art should be sold … [Read more...]

Detroit Institute of Arts Comments on Christie’s Appraisal Report CLARIFIED

The dark "cloud of unknowing" (about which director Graham Beal has previously lamented) regarding deliberations about the Detroit Institute of Arts' fate continues to hang over the museum today, with the delivery of Christie's 150-page appraisal report to Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr. The report provides valuations for more than 2,000 works from the museum's 66,000-work collection and proffers five problematic recommendations on how those works might be monetized. [CLARIFICATION: A previous version of this post erroneously said that … [Read more...]

Christie’s Submits 150-Page Report on Detroit Institute Art Valuations and Monetization Recommendations UPDATED

UPDATE: Detroit Institute's reaction to the report is here. This message from Christie's just hit my inbox: Christie’s has delivered to the Emergency Manager’s Office of the City of Detroit the final report on its two-part project that includes a valuation of City of Detroit (COD)- purchased works of art in the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) collection and recommendations for alternatives that would help the City gain value from the COD works while retaining ownership of them.  The aggregate fair market value of the COD works remains … [Read more...]

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 … [Read more...]

Not Just a Pension Subvention: Why “Grand Bargain” to Rescue Detroit Institute of Arts Could Work

Sometimes winning or losing philanthropic support is a question of how you structure the grant proposal. Foundations approached in recent months by Graham Beal, the Detroit Institute of Arts' director, had all told him the same thing: They would not provide funds towards the $500 million that Detroit's emergency manager, Kevyn Orr, said he wanted the museum to come up with (by selling its art or otherwise) to help the beleaguered city emerge from bankruptcy. At the IFAR panel discussion on DIA’s situation, which I attended on Oct. 24 in … [Read more...]

Settlement Sentiment: Judge Offers Ray of Hope for Detroit Institute; Christie’s Offers Dicey Art Appraisal

In today's 150-page order authorizing Detroit's Chapter 9 bankruptcy, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes gave the beleaguered Detroit Institute of Arts some hope to cling to. As reported by Nathan Bomey, Brent Snavely and Alisa Priddle in the Detroit Free Press: Rhodes expounded on his ruling, saying pensions can be cut because they are contracts and urging the city to be cautious about “one-time” sale of assets unless it contributes to the city’s “operational revenue” [emphasis added]. Although Judge Rhodes didn't specifically mention … [Read more...]

Fright Night: Detroit Institute of Arts’ Attorney Shines Light on City’s Murky Bankruptcy Discussions (with video)

Halloween seems like the ideal time to confront a scary situation that spooks the artworld---the possibility that the Detroit Institute of Arts might be forced to sell masterpieces from its collection to help satisfy its destitute city's creditors. Last week, an important behind-the-scenes player not given to public pronouncements, Richard Levin, the NYC-based lawyer retained by the DIA to navigate these perilous waters, broke his silence in a public panel discussion by four DIA-friendly experts who were assembled in New York by the … [Read more...]

BlogBack: Frank Robinson Endorses My Interpretation of His NY Times Letter on Detroit Institute

Frank Robinson, the retired veteran director of Cornell University's Johnson Museum, whose provocative letter to the NY Times was seriously misconstrued by another ArtsJournal blogger, responds to my post, Detroit Institute Debate: Judith Dobrzynski’s Misunderstanding of Frank Robinson’s Nuanced NY Times Letter: Of course your interpretation of my letter is absolutely correct: I hope desperately that Detroit does not sell any paintings. A few years ago, in the middle of the Brandeis controversy [my link, not his], I wrote an op-ed piece for … [Read more...]

Detroit Institute Debate: Judith Dobrzynski’s Misunderstanding of Frank Robinson’s Nuanced NY Times Letter

UPDATE: Robinson responds, clearing up the confusion. As a Cornell University alumna who has had the highest regard for Frank Robinson's 19-year stewardship of my alma mater's Johnson Museum, I was shocked and saddened when I read a Real Clear Arts post yesterday by my fellow ArtsJournal blogger, Judith Dobrzynski, who blasted Robinson for for his NY Times letter---Invitation to a Dialogue in Hard Times---regarding the debate about whether to sell the Detroit Institute of Art's masterpieces to help defray the city's debts and … [Read more...]

Motown Meltdown: Christie’s to Appraise Part of Detroit Institute of Arts’ Collection; DIA Will “Cooperate Completely”

A precondition for any deplorable forced sale of works from the Detroit Institute of Arts' collection to help defray the financially devastated city's debts and obligations would be a professional appraisal of those artworks. That first step has now been set in motion, ordered today by Detroit's Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr. As announced separately today by Christie's and by the museum (full text of DIA's statement, below), the auction house's appraisal arm has entered in an agreement to evaluate certain works. As reported by Mark Stryker of … [Read more...]

Motown Meltdown: WSJ’s Terry Teachout on Building a “No-Sale Consensus” for Detroit Institute’s Masterpieces

In his opinion piece on the Detroit Institute of Arts' uncertain future in today's Wall Street Journal, author, critic (and fellow ArtsJournal blogger) Terry Teachout adds a useful corollary to the argument (which I had articulated, here) that any financial restructuring plan for city's "postcrisis future" must (in Terry's words) "preserve at least some of the things that help make the city worth living in"---notably, its eminent museum. Terry took this line of reasoning a step further, arguing for the importance of developing "a no-sale … [Read more...]

“Sounder Grasp of Issues”: Schjeldahl Says Detroit Institute of Arts Shouldn’t Be Decimated After All

In a headspinning turnaround, New Yorker art critic Peter Schjeldahl yesterday asked for a do-over, after being pelted with a torrent of tirades for his muddled analysis regarding possible sales of the Detroit Institute of Art's masterpieces in connection with the city's pending bankruptcy filing. In retracting his ill-considered views, he essentially acknowledged that (in my words yesterday) his "mistaken assumption" had led "to a confused conclusion." Saying that he now has a "sounder grasp of the issues involved," Schjeldahl yesterday … [Read more...]

Fatuous Journalistic Commentary on the Detroit Institute of Arts’ Plight (and why it must be saved) UPDATED

UPDATE: For my take on Peter Schjeldahl's subsequent retraction, go here. There has been an astonishing amount of wrongheaded commentary---ranging from clueless to the pernicious---regarding the severe threat to the Detroit Institute of Arts' collection that could be triggered by the city's bankruptcy. With one exception, I don't wish to dignify this foolishness with links that would provide further exposure. The exception, because it was to me (and many readers) the most astonishing and unexpected, is the muddled argument by the New … [Read more...]

Detroit Institute of Arts Issues Statement Regarding City’s Bankruptcy Filing Today

The Detroit Institute of Arts, whose rich collection is owned by the destitute City of Detroit, today posted this statement on its website regarding the news that the city has filed for bankruptcy: Like so many with deep roots in this city, the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) is disappointed that the Emergency Manager determined it was necessary to file for bankruptcy.  As a municipal bankruptcy of this size is unprecedented, the DIA will continue to carefully monitor the situation, fully confident that the Emergency Manager, the Governor and … [Read more...]

Detroit’s Emergency Manager’s Proposals Spare Detroit Institute’s Art (plus DIA’s work behind scenes)

It's a hopeful sign, but not a complete reprieve. This just in from Mark Stryker of the Detroit Free Press [emphasis added]: The sale of city-owned art at the Detroit Institute of Arts was not part of the plan presented to creditors Friday morning by the city’s emergency manager Kevyn Orr. The report makes no mention of monetizing the museum or its art to raise money to pay down the city’s massive debt. But the report does not rule out the possibility that the museum might be asked to contribute revenue as part of the restructuring plan … [Read more...]

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

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, … [Read more...]

“Breach of Trust”: AAMD President Timothy Rub’s Eloquent Letter to Michigan’s Governor Defends Detroit Institute’s Collection

As I hoped he would, Timothy Rub, director of the Philadelphia Museum, has hit the ground running in his new gig as president of the Association of Art Museum Directors. His just released Letter to Michigan Governor Rick Snyder goes beyond the usual bromides (which he repeats) that monetizing the Detroit Institute of Art's collection to satisfy the financially Detroit's onerous financial obligations "would violate fundamental principles long recognized by the museum community." He also lays out how taking such a step would "constitute a … [Read more...]

Former Detroit Institute Director Sam Sachs Downplays Collection Threat (plus, details of museum’s contract with the city) UPDATED

In what may be wishful thinking, Samuel Sachs II, who directed the chronically beleaguered Detroit Institute of Arts from 1985 to 1997, believes that the threat to the museum's collection posed by Detroit's dire financial circumstances may be "a lot of smoke but no fire." In a phone conversation yesterday, Sachs gave me a tutorial on Detroit politics and recounted to me the historical background behind the current alarming situation: Although the city and state have withdrawn their financial support for the museum's operations, they … [Read more...]

an ArtsJournal blog