As the city-state appointed emergency manager of Detroit, Kevin Orr is mulling over all the options the city has as bankruptcy approaches. With over $14 billion debt, a bankruptcy filing by the city of Detroit would become the largest municipal bankruptcy in history, surpassing the situation in Jefferson County, Alabama. While Orr has no immediate plans, some of his ideas and investigations, including the auctioning of Van Gogh’s artwork, have come under fire.
Detroit’s Reckoning Approaches
To help resolve the city’s debt, Kevin Orr is currently considering whether the art collection at the Detroit Institute of Arts should be sold to in an attempt to satisfy creditors. The collection in the museum is estimated to exceed $15 billion, which could be auctioned to the highest bidder. Historic pieces by art icon Van Gogh would not be exempt.
The museum has hired a bankruptcy attorney from New York to protect the collection from losses. The museum stands firm in their decision to protect the cultural heritage of Detroit, and they hope that the attorney will be able to keep the city from auctioning the collection. This same attorney also served as the bankruptcy attorney for other high profile cases, such as the General Motors bankruptcy case.
As debt problems continue for Detroit, Chapter 9 is likely to be the option the city will consider the most. Under Chapter 9, neither a judge nor the city’s creditors could force Detroit to liquidate its assets. This would protect the art collection and other centerpieces that make Detroit unique.
Though the Detroit Institute of Arts has already hired a bankruptcy attorney to protect its collection, it’s not the only place where the city is looking to solve its debt problems. The Detroit Zoo giraffe, Belle Isle, and other city assets are being measured against the city’s debt.