Detroit’s automakers pledge $26 million to save museum, benefit pensions


Since Detroit filed for bankruptcy in July 2013, creditors have had the Detroit Institute of Arts’ multi-million dollar collection in its sights. Photo by the DIA

In a show of solidarity for a city struggling through bankruptcy, Detroit’s three automakers announced Monday a pledge of $26 million to go toward a deal that would help save the integrity of the city’s renowned art museum and alleviate pension reductions for thousands of city workers.

The Detroit Free Press reports that Chrysler will donate $6 million, and Ford and General Motors and their charitable arms will each give $10 million to the Detroit Museum of Art’s $100 million pledge for pension funding.

According to the Free Press, the DIA has committed to raising the $100 million for the federally mediated deal in which ownership of the museum will be transferred to an independent charitable trust for the equivalent of $816 million — to come from wealthy foundations, the state of Michigan and the DIA. The money raised would go toward funding the city’s $3.5 billion pension deficit. The auto companies’ contributions have pushed the museum to 70 percent of its commitment.

These are the first major corporate donations for the DIA-pension deal. According to CNNMoney, museum officials originally asked each automaker to give $25 million.

Detroit is unique from other major U.S. cities in that it owns its art museum. In 1920, it became the first art museum in America to acquire a Van Gogh.

Some of the city’s creditors want bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes to allow interested buyers to look through the DIA’s collection in order to allow them to make their own estimation of the worth of the collection. Christie’s valued the artwork between $450 million and $870 million.

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