DETROIT (UPI) — A Federal judge is seeking funds to help Detroit meet pension costs and spare the city from having to sell valuable works of art, sources told The Detroit News.
Federal Judge Steven Rhodes, who is close to deciding whether Detroit is eligible for Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection, asked representatives of regional and national foundations to participate in a proposal, which would include raising up to $500 million to spare the city from having to part with some of the collection managed by the Detroit Institute of Art, The News reported Thursday.
The collection is valued at several billion dollars, The News reported.
The city, meanwhile, has more than $18 billion in debts and is short about $3.5 billion on obligations to two pension funds.
The city’s emergency manager Kevyn Orr is pressing for the art institute to sell some of its collection to raise cash, and auction house Christie’s is already on the job, coming to the end of a preliminary evaluation of 3,500 of the city’s 65,000 art items, the newspaper said.
The News said multiple sources said Judge Rosen made a “carefully worded,” pitch to representatives of various charities, including Kresge, Hudson-Webber, Mott, Knight and the Ford Foundation of New York in a three-hour meeting on Nov. 5, in an attempt to promote his plan.
“The number is what’s in question,” one of the sources said, referring to the total sum that would need to be raised.
The proposal, the sources said, also includes creating a charitable trust that would protect the city’s art collection from being dragged into a fiscal crisis in the future.