Detroit Institute of Arts Draws Attention from Would-Be Buyers Offering Billions

Diego Rivera murals at the Detroit Institute of Arts. Photo: Benjamin Sutton.

The embattled Detroit Institute of Arts has received four bids from companies looking to buy part of all of its collection, according to reports from the Wall Street Journal and the Detroit Free Press.

The city’s emergency manager, Kevyn Orr, is hoping to implement a proposed bankruptcy adjustment plan for Detroit that would leave the museum’s collection intact and put $816 million in city coffers. Unfortunately, as artnet News reported last week, creditors are still eager to monetize the art, which they suspect is being underutilized by the so-called “Grand Bargain.”

A December appraisal conducted by Christie’s valued the collection at $452–866 million, but that only counted some 3,000 artworks explicitly owned by the city, or about 5 percent of the museum’s total holdings.

By bidding on the institute’s collection, creditors hope to undermine the city’s proposal. They have requested an expedited April 23 hearing with judge Steven Rhodes, who is overseeing the bankruptcy proceedings, asking the city to “cooperate with interested parties seeking to conduct due diligence on the art collection housed at the Detroit Institute of Arts.”

Orr does not seem inclined to bend under such pressure. “We have no intention of selling art,” he fired back in an interview with Reuters. “In a Chapter 9 you cannot compel the city to sell anything, not a park, not a zoo, not the DIA.”

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