Fate of Detroit's art hangs in the balance

But the judge, Steven W. Rhodes, questioned for the first time the push by some of the city’s largest creditors to sell paintings and sculpture from the Detroit Institute of Arts, a sale that could generate hundreds of millions of dollars or more. While he did not say specifically that the art should be spared, Judge Rhodes, in a brief mention of the institute by name, said that such a sale would not have helped Detroit avoid bankruptcy.

“A one-time infusion of cash by selling an asset,” he said, would have only delayed the city’s “inevitable financial failure” unless it could have also come up with a sustainable way to enhance income and reduce expenses. Judge Rhodes added that in considering selling assets, a city “must take extreme care that the asset is truly unnecessary in carrying out its mission.”

Some creditors argue that the art is not necessary for the city’s mission. Derek Donnelly, managing director of the Financial Guaranty Insurance Company, a creditor, told The Detroit Free Press, “The D.I.A. or art is not an essential asset and especially not one that is essential to the delivery of services in the city.”