Oakland County: We will pull DIA funding if any part of collection is sold

By Mara MacDonald, Local 4 Reporter, @MaraMacDonald
Published On: Dec 24 2013 09:48:40 AM EST
Updated On: Oct 03 2013 11:24:22 PM EDT

The county is sending Detroit EM Kevyn Orr a warning: sell part of the collection and the millage funding stops.

DETROIT -

Detroit's Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr drew a capacity crowd Thursday at the Detroit Economic Club where Local 4's own Carmen Harlan tried to get him to say that he will not sell anything from the Detroit Institute of Art's collection.

Orr wouldn't say it.

Story: Orr: Detroit's art collection is way to help with deep debt

"Everything is on the table. At the end of the day I’m a receiver and I have a fiduciary obligation to account for all of the assets of the city of Detroit," he said.

Some things to consider: It’s no secret creditors think Orr has been dragging his feet when it comes to getting the collection valuated. Those same creditors also make it clear they believe art should be sold to satisfy them. Bottom line, the collection is at risk.

Orr's comments struck a nerve with Oakland County Arts Authority chair Tom Guastello. Last year voters in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties approved a millage that helps keep the doors open at the Detroit museum. Guastello now is issuing a warning: sell one piece of art and Oakland County will pull its millage monies. It’s no idle threat either.

"We have an agreement and we're going to live by that agreement," Guastello said.

Is it enough of a threat to prevent Orr from selling anything from the museum to satisfy creditors? The EM says he is hoping the DIA and interested parties will come up with a solution that doesn’t force his hand.

Each day that goes by, that becomes less likely. Of the thousands of pieces of art in the collection about 400 are considered treasures. Guastello said it makes no difference whether a Van Gogh is sold or something less valuable. Sell anything and the museum has major money problems on its hands.

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