Keep your hands off the treasures at the Detroit Institute of Arts. Those are messages that suburban officials plan to send in writing after suggestions by Detroit’s bankruptcy managers that that art treasures at the Detroit Institute of Arts might be ripe for satisfying the city of Detroit’s creditors.
The first official warning will come early next week from Oakland County, with Macomb and Wayne counties planning to follow.
At a meeting Tuesday of the Oakland County Art Institute Authority in Pontiac, the five-member board intends to pass a resolution saying it would block further collection of the suburban tax that supports the DIA if any art or other DIA assets are seized for Detroit’s creditors.
The resolution will say that, in the event Detroit sells any of the DIA collection or diverts Oakland County’s arts tax for the bankruptcy settlement, Oakland County will terminate the 0.2-mill tax.
Oakland County contributes about $9 million a year to the DIA, Macomb County pays $7 million and Wayne County about $10 million.
Patterson said Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel “already called me to say they’ll follow suit” with a matching resolution in Macomb County. And Wayne County has a similar plan except that County Executive Robert Ficano, was “going to wait to see what part they’d sell off” of the DIA’s assets.
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder has said there is no plan to seize art or other assets from the DIA for Detroit’s state-approved bankruptcy. Still, a statement Tuesday from the governor’s office implied that DIA art isn’t off the table when valuing city assets.
Emergency manager Kevyn Orr said last week that he has contracted auction house Christies to evaluate some art. The DIA’s collection is believed to be worth billions of dollars. Nearly 40 of the museum’s greatest treasures carry a value of $2.5 billion, according to experts.
The DIA’s art, thanks to the arts tax, is now a regional asset and not just a Detroit one.