How Detroit Saved Its Art Collection From The Bill Collectors

November 7, 2014 8:18 PM

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Detroit’s $7 billion reorganization plan represents a hard-fought agreement among the city’s employees, retirees, bondholders and other creditors. It’s also a big win for art lovers, thanks to an unusual, and possibly unique, deal under which outside contributors agreed to put $800 million into Detroit’s underfunded pension plans in exchange for taking the Detroit Institute of Art’s priceless collection of Van Goghs, Matisses and Picassos off the bargaining table.

“This is one of the most fascinating cases imaginable,” said Arthur O’Reilly, a partner with the Detroit firm Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn, longtime lawyers for the 129-year-old museum. Every bankruptcy case involves hard bargains, he said, but this one required the city’s creditors — as well ...

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