The thousands of artworks kept by the Detroit Institute of Arts could be vulnerable to a sale if the city of Detroit is forced into bankruptcy.
No one at the DIA or in the office of Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr wants to sell the DIA's art. But the city's financial situation is precarious. It faces $15 billion in long-term liabilities as well as a short-term cash flow crisis.
Bill Nowling, spokesman for the Emergency Manager, said the DIA was notified about the depth of the crisis.
"We went to the DIA two months ago and told them that we thought, should the city be forced by its creditors into Chapter 9 bankruptcy, that the assets of the city could be vulnerable," Nowling said.
Annmarie Erickson of the DIA said any sale of DIA art would not be in line with the stated goals of the Emergency Manager's mission.
"The emergency financial manager and the governor have both said that their goal is to leave Detroit stronger after this process and I cannot believe that anyone things dismantling the DIA would leave Detroit stronger," Ericson said.
The DIA has hired an attorney and continues to claim that it holds its art collection as a public trust. But the city of Detroit owns the building and the artwork. If the city is pushed into bankruptcy, that artwork could be viewed as a city asset and be vulnerable to sale.