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July 17, 2014

Detroit Museum Gets $27-Million More in Grand-Bargain Gifts

The Detroit Institute of Arts announced Wednesday that it has secured an additional $26.8-million in corporate donations toward meeting its $100-million pledge to the city's "grand bargain" fund, the Detroit Free Press reports.

The gifts pushed the museum past the $80-million mark in its fundraising for the federally mediated, largely foundation-funded plan to help pay down Detroit's pension liability while shifting the institute from municipal to nonprofit ownership, shielding its artworks from sale to satisfy other creditors in the city's bankruptcy case.

Nine companies contributed to the new round of gifts, led by transportation-services firm Penske Corp., which gave $10-million. The grand bargain, a linchpin of Detroit's restructuring plan, remains subject to a vote by current and retired city workers—officials are in the process of counting the ballots—and U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes.

Bond insurers holding Detroit debt have called on the city to put some of the museum's works up for sale. Wall Street Journal arts and leisure editor Eric Gibson writes that a recent full appraisal of the collection, which estimated its value at up to $4.6-billion, injected "some common sense" into the debate by breaking down how much less the works would likely bring at auction due to weakness in much of the fine-art market, likely litigation, and bad publicity associated with a fire sale.