Artful Courtroom Strategies: The DIA prepares for the city’s bankruptcy trial

Artful Courtroom Strategies: The DIA prepares for the city’s bankruptcy trial

In preparation for the Detroit’s bankruptcy trial, scheduled to begin Aug. 14, the Detroit Institute of Arts and the city have hired a art investment firm, the Detroit Free Press reports.

Artvest Partners, based in New York, advises “attorneys, dealers, insurers, other art world professionals and collectors,” Freep reporter Mark Stryker writes. The city and the DIA have requested the firm “provide a price range for the entire 66,000-piece collection at the city-owned DIA and assess the viability and practicality of selling art or otherwise monetizing the collection,” according to Bill Nowling, spokesperson for Detroit emergency manager Kevyn Orr.

While the “grand bargain” was designed, in part, to protect the museum’s artwork from sale, nothing is final in bankruptcy until the judge approves the city’s Plan of Adjustment. While Judge Steven Rhodes has indicated creditors can’t force a sale, some creditors have continued to seek that action, specifically bond insurer Syncora, who has sought independent appraisals of the art, subpoenaed numerous officials from the DIA and foundations that helped fund the “grand bargain” to testify about the collection and its value.

The Freep analyzes the hiring of Artvest as:

Artvest’s appearance in the bankruptcy drama opens a new front in the battle over the DIA and underscores that the fight is far from over — despite widespread support for Orr’s restructuring plan, whose $816-million grand bargain transfers ownership of the museum to an independent nonprofit while also preventing more debilitating cuts to municipal pensions.

Judge Rhodes has scheduled a June 26 hearing regarding Syncora subpoenas related to the grand bargain deal. The foundations filed a motion to quash Syncora’s subpoena.

Syncora responded in a June 18th filing, arguing, in part, “…the Foundations’ suggestion that they are minor players in this bankruptcy ignores the practical realities of this case — as well as their own press releases.”