In a process that at this point is approaching farce, the Detroit Free Press is reporting that City of Detroit emergency manager Kevyn Orr demanded yesterday that the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) contribute to a city bankruptcy fund, despite the recent $680 million intervention on the DIA’s behalf by Michigan governor Rick Snyder and a consortium of nonprofit foundations. Though the court-appointed emergency manager has since May targeted the DIA in discussions of Detroit assets that could be tapped for capital in the ongoing bankruptcy, yesterday’s meeting was Orr’s first with the museum’s leadership.
Though Orr apparently did not request a specific contribution from the institution, the Free Press cites a source “familiar with Orr’s plans” who places the figure at $100 million over 20 years, which is in line with what debt collateralized by the December Christie’s appraisal Orr commissioned could generate. As we noted when that appraisal was published, it’s unlikely that the City-owned tranche of the collection, valued between $454 and $866 million, would be able to raise debt to the tune of the $500 million Orr’s office was then said to be seeking. The emergency manager continues to financially pursue the DIA — despite the recent $680 million pledge — because he represents all of the city’s creditors, not just the pension funds whose deficits (and DIA’s artwork) the $680 million is meant to protect. Though he’s lost the emotive appeal of beleaguered pensioners, the (softened) shakedown on behalf of opportunistic investors goes on.