Philanthropist offers $5M toward protecting Detroit museum's collection amid city's bankruptcy

By Lauren Podell - Reporter

DETROIT - You could call it a challenge by U.S. Chief District Judge Gerald Rosen. He wants to make the Detroit Institute of Arts independent from the city to protect what's inside from creditors looking to pay off Detroit's $18 billion in debts.

Rosen's goal: to persuade at several, large charitable foundations to raise up to $500 million. Sound realistic? One man is up for the challenge. 

His name is Paul Schapp. It's a name you name may not recognize, but one you may have seen on the chemistry building at Wayne State University. The building was named after him following a generous gift he gave the university where he taught for three decades.

Now, the local philanthropist is ready to give again, this time to save art in Detroit.

"This is too important not to step up, it's a once in a lifetime opportunity," said A. Paul Schaap, PH.D. "I think the result of having to sell even one piece of art would be so devastating to morale of the community that people need to step forward." 

Schaap's plan is to step forward with a $5 million check in hand to do his part. This Grosse Pointer made his millions as biotechnology entrepreneur and was inspired by Rosen's idea to raise money from charitable foundations.  

"That's a difficult sell. So, I thought perhaps if they saw people from the metro area stepping up, it would stimulate them to do the same thing," he said. 

So, if the money were raised, where would the $500 million go? 

"No. 1 is minimize the hurt to the people who are on pensions and to protect the DIA, I think his fund of $500 million will serve both ends," said Schaap.

Schaap is not wasting any time, he has already met with Rosen to get the ball rolling on his $5 million donation.

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