Monday, January 13, 2014

A Way to Save the DIA?

Apparently a group of local and national foundations have formed a human circle around the Detroit Institute to block the sale of any art.  Actually, scratch that.  They haven't done that at all.  What they've done is pledged $330 million towards a deal that would save the art.

I think the technical legal term for this under the bankruptcy statute is Putting Your Money Where Your Mouth Is.  Much more effective than simply pounding the table and repeating that museums never ever sell art, it just isn't done.

John Gallagher and Mark Stryker have the story in the Detroit Free Press. They point out that "the pledges do not by themselves mean that the ... DIA art [is] now beyond the reach of creditors. Rather, the commitments are intended and expected to play a part in ... 'an overall balanced settlement of disputes in the bankruptcy.'  In other words, there is no deal until all the various claims in the broader bankruptcy case have been settled."  More from Randy Kennedy (and others) in the NYT.

One way to look at the proposed deal is as a sale of the collection by the DIA to the foundations ... who then gift it back to the museum.  Or maybe as the museum paying to remove the works from the bankruptcy process.  I guess the creditors might then argue that the "purchase price" was too much of a bargain and demand more.