The art world is buzzing, albeit quietly, about a prospective, voluntary sale of some Detroit Institute of Arts works — including an 1886 Van Gogh still life.
In the hubbub of Detroit’s Chapter 9 bankruptcy, the prospect of selling off the DIA’s collection was a key controversy. Selling even one painting to satisfy creditors or fund operations, DIA officials said then, could destroy the DIA’s standing in the museum world.
The DIA triumphed when the so-called “grand bargain” ensured the museum would remain intact last year. Instead of selling any art, the museum pledged $100 million to help the city pay down debt.
In the letter, which Gingell read to The News, Gargaro said he wants to work on connecting the three art authorities — which are contracted with the DIA and collect tax money on behalf of the county — with compensation decisions by meeting with them three or four times a year.
“So the county art authorities have opportunity for input, so that’s a good measure,” Gingell said. “They would review the DIA audited financial statements and discuss it in an open forum with the art authorities. It’s definitely more outreach, more transparency, more practical steps to address compensation.”
Reached by The News Wednesday afternoon, Gargaro declined to discuss the specifics of the letter or what it was offering. “I haven’t had a chance to speak with the commissioners about it yet,” Gargaro said.
In other words, Eugene Gargaro hasn’t read the official script yet.
Gargaro is expected to meet with commissioners during their caucus Thursday morning, Gingell said. That will take place just before the start of the regular board meeting, at which commissioner Dave Woodward, D-Royal Oak, had planned to offer a resolution to dissolve the Oakland County Art Authority, which sends $11 million a year to the DIA.
Gingell said once all 21 members of the board read the letter and speak with Gargaro, “my personal opinion is things will move on” and the issue of dissolving the art authority will be over.