Tuesday, October 15, 2013

"The emergency manager’s deputies have repeatedly told DIA leaders that he needs $400 million-$500 million from them ...."

The Detroit Free Press has a look at some possible ways to "squeeze cash from billions of dollars of city-owned masterpieces without actually selling them."

There's an interesting dynamic at play here for the Deaccession Police.  Their instinct is always to throw cold water on all of these ideas.  For example, if someone suggests the city rent out the works, they will say "there's no real money in that."  They think any effort to generate value from the collection is just so ... icky.  (I believe that is a technical term fully recognized under the bankruptcy statute.)  They want to, as a bankruptcy lawyer quoted in the article says, "pretend the art doesn’t have value."

But I think there's real careful-what-you-wish-for potential here.  If they keep dumping on the alternatives to sale, if they keep arguing that the other options won't work, then that opens the door to the emergency manager saying, "Look, we tried to come up with ways to keep from having to sell the art, but everyone kept telling us those ideas wouldn't work.  We hate to have to do this, but there is no alternative to selling."

If I were a member of the Deaccession Police, I'd be talking up the possible rental streams every chance I got.