The Detroit News ran an opinion piece on the possibility of the financially troubled city looking at art in the Detroit Institute of Arts as a possible funding source.  According to the article, there is no current strategy to sell off art from the DIA, but it is a future possibility to potentially stop a State take over of the city's finances.  The likelihood seems remote, and if attempted would certainly cause a series of lawsuits and opposition from the general public and other cultural institutions.  The article states the DIA has a collection that could be valued over $1 billion.

The Detroit News reports

But as Detroit city officials frantically try to stave off state intervention, whether by consent decree, emergency manager or even municipal bankruptcy, the city's dire financial situation raises once taboo speculation: Is the city's timeless art collection immune from the city's urgent need for cash?

As the streetlights flicker and the city's dollars trickle away, the DIA stands alone among the city's institutions as a trove of treasures. The Detroit Zoo, the Detroit Historical Museum, the Charles M. Wright Museum of African American History, and libraries and parks all can command market value — but lions and tigers or even rare books cannot begin to match the store of riches locked behind the DIA's grand fa├žade.

With a collective value beyond $1billion, the DIA has several works that might command $10 million to $100 million or more with the flick of a gavel. Yes, such a sale would be unlikely, inspire outcry and lawsuits, and violate the public trust that has enabled the museum to acquire art and donations from patrons for a century.

No, the city has no plans to sell art — at least not now. "The city understands the value of its cultural institutions, and that is not a part of the plan right now," Deputy Mayor Kirk Lewis said in a statement.

But the sale of even a few masterpieces could keep the city running, or pay off creditors or otherwise enable desperate city officials to trade off poetic needs for more pragmatic ones. Would the city make such a cold-blooded calculation?

"Let them get desperate with something else," said Tina Bassett, a member of the DIA's board of directors and chair of its development committee. "It's something we're so proud of."
Source: The Detroit News 

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