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Detroit and Deaccessioning—the Museum Responds

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on May 11, 2015 at 8:24 AM

We mused recently about (and tried to clarify) the possible tension between the Detroit Institute of Arts’ successful scuttling of any plans to consider selling its collection to satisfy the city’s debts in the Detroit Bankruptcy. The purpose of the post was not guileful: it seemed likely that many readers might be confused about how Detroit could propose to sell artwork when so much coverage had been addressed to the idea of not selling artwork. In fact, the two ideas are entirely consistent with the consensus of museum governance ethics, but we thought it was an occasion to prompt discussion about the policy behind those ethical guidelines. After all, apart from New York, the rules of deaccessioning are not actually law, they are enforced essentially through collective opprobrium. To facilate that discussion, I quoted Donn Zaretsky, a prominent critic of the status quo, for readers to consider on the one hand, against the guidelines themselves on the other hand.

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Topics: Donn Zaretsky, Deaccession, Detroit bank, Graham W. J. Beal, Randy Kennedy, Deaccessioning, Van Gogh, Detroit Institute of Arts, DIA, Museums, New York Times, Chagall, Detroit Bankruptcy, Art Law Report

10, 9, 8…the Biggest Art Law Report Stories of 2014 and a Look Ahead

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on December 31, 2014 at 5:00 AM

As the ball teeters above Times Square, and the Glühwein begins to mull on the Art Law Report stove (don’t forget the cinnamon!), a gimmicky but apropos act of reflection is to look back at the biggest stories of 2014, both in art law generally and for yours truly and Sullivan & Worcester LLP. In highly subjective, unverifiable, and immediately criticizeable order, here they are. Thanks as always for reading, and best wishes for in interesting, prosperous New Year. If you agree, disagree, or otherwise, please continue to stay in touch and carry the conversation forward.

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Topics: Comedy Central, Deaccession, Schwabinger Kunstfund, Charitable Foundations, National Gallery of Art, Knoedler, Cornelius Gurlitt, Blogs, authentication, authenticity, parody, William Corcoran, Moral Rights, Above the Law, Germany, George Washington University, Glühwein, Nazi-looted art, Gurlitt Collection, Norton Simon, Graffiti Art, Superior Court, Cy Pres, Washington DC, VARA, Detroit Institute of Arts, Bankruptcy, Corcoran College of Art + Design, Dumb Starbucks, Preemption, Asher Edelman, DIA, Restitution, Marei Von Saher, Artmentum GmbH, Bavaria, Sullivan & Worcester LLP, World War II, Copyright, Times Square, Art Fairs, Kunstmuseum Bern, Corcoran Gallery, Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, Museums, Raubkunst, Detroit Bankruptcy, Fair Use, Münchner Kunstfund, Foreign Cultural Exchange Jurisdictional Immunity, Graffiti, Civil Forfeiture, Art Law Report

All Sides Show Their Cards on Detroit Institute of Arts Collection as Bankruptcy Trial Begins

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on September 4, 2014 at 7:44 AM

Opening statements concluded in the Detroit Bankruptcy trial yesterday, and as expected, the role of the art at the Detroit Institute of Arts played a central role. Although opening statements constitute nothing of evidentiary value, they obviously show the road map that the various sides intend to follow. Thanks to courtroom reporting, we have a number of clues about the themes that the lawyers intend to develop.

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Topics: Deaccession, Syncora Capital, Kate Wells, Detroit Institute of Arts, DIA, Detroit Bankruptcy, grand bargain

Detroit Institute of Arts Grand Bargain Not Done Yet, Creditors Claim to Have Purchaser Willing to Pay Nearly $2 Billion for Entire Collection

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on April 23, 2014 at 11:17 AM

Since reports last month that a grand bargain had been struck to provide an infusion of cash to the Detroit bankruptcy in exchange for conveying the artwork at the Detroit Institute of Arts back to the museum itself, it has been largely accepted that the deal would succeed. The deal would contribute $366 million from several foundations, $100 million from the DIA foundation, and $350 million from the State of Michigan. This air of inevitability is due in large part to the cards that Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr holds: unless Detroit wants to monetize or sell the DIA collection that the city owns, creditors cannot compel the city to do so. This in turn is for factors unique to Chapter 9 bankruptcy, as discussed here previously.

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Topics: Poly International Auction Co. Ltd, Deaccession, Chapter 9, Emergency Manager, Art Capital Group LLC, Judge Rhodes, Christie's, Detroit Institute of Arts, Yuan Management Hong Kong Limited, Catalyst Acquisitions LLC, DIA, Marc Bell Partners, Kevyn Orr, DIA collection, Detroit Bankruptcy

Post Eligibility Ruling, Kevyn Orr Reiterates Expectation That DIA will Contribute Revenue to City’s Financial Plan

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on December 3, 2013 at 1:47 PM

Just after the Bankruptcy Court held that Detroit is indeed eligible for Chapter 9 bankruptcy, Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr reiterated that he expects the Detroit Institute of Arts to contribute financially to the city’s plan to emerge from insolvency. Said Orr, “We’d like to find a way to monetize the DIA.”

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Topics: DIA collection sale, Detroit, Detroit Institute of Arts, DIA, Kevyn Orr, Detroit Bankruptcy

Detroit Bankruptcy Will Proceed, Judge’s Comments about Detroit Institute of Arts Could Affect Involvement or Sale of Artwork

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on December 3, 2013 at 6:59 AM

The Hon. Steven W. Rhodes of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan has ruled that Detroit may proceed with its Chapter 9 bankruptcy. Judge Rhodes explained his ruling for over an hour from the bench, finding Chapter 9 itself to be constitutional, and addressing other challenges including the requirements of Michigan state law, whether the city had bargained in good faith, and the extent to which pensions could be cut in the eventual plan to emerge from bankruptcy. The written decision is not yet available, but check back later in the day and it will be posted here.

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Topics: kevyn, DIA collection sale, Steven W. Rhodes, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Mi, Christie's, Detroit, Detroit Institute of Arts, DIA, Detroit Bankruptcy

Detroit Creditors Press Bankruptcy Court for Action on Sale of Detroit Institute of Arts Collection, Motion Likely Premature and Unfounded

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on November 27, 2013 at 9:11 AM

Major creditors of the city of Detroit filed a request in the bankruptcy proceeding to hasten the process of evaluating the value of the collection of the Detroit Institute of Arts. The motion raises a few questions, but fundamentally it is off-base: in a municipal bankruptcy the creditors are never going to be able to force the sale of DIA's art. It will ultimately be, as it has always been, the decision of the city through its emergency manager Kevyn Orr. Significantly, though, this is the first actual filing in the bankruptcy related to DIA.

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Topics: Syncora Guarantee Inc., NORD/LB Covered Finance Bank S.A., City of Detroit Retirees, 11 U.S.C. § 904, Syncora Capital Assurance Inc., Dexia Crédit Local, FMS-WM Service, Christie's, valuation, Ambac Assurance Corporation, Appraisal, Detroit, Detroit Institute of Arts, Bankruptcy, FMS Wertmanagement, DIA, Erste Europäische Pfandbrief-und Kommunalkreditban, Hypothekenbank Frankfurt International S.A., Dexia Holdings, Michigan Council 25 of the American Federation of, AFL-CIO and Sub-Chapter 98, Kevyn Orr, Hypothekenbank Frankfurt AG, Financial Guaranty Insurance Company, Detroit Bankruptcy, National Association

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About the Blog

The Art Law Report provides timely updates and commentary on legal issues in the museum and visual arts communities. It is authored by Nicholas M. O'Donnell, partner in our Art & Museum Law Practice.

The material on this site is for general information only and is not legal advice. No liability is accepted for any loss or damage which may result from reliance on it. Always consult a qualified lawyer about a specific legal problem.

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