"In issuing this opinion, I recognize the serious financial hardships that face the City, the difficulties that the people who live and work in the City have endured for decades, and the many challenges facing the citizens of the City of Detroit and the State in the future. Yet, in the 128 years since the creation of the Detroit Institute of Arts, at no time have the people demanded that their most precious cultural resources be sold in order to satisfy financial obligations. To the contrary, the citizens of this State recognize that abandoning or selling the public's artwork would damage not only the City's but the State's cultural commonwealth. In Michigan, we not only appreciate our cultural treasures, we guard them zealously in charitable trust for all state residents, present and future."
A.G. Bill Schuette
Michigan's Attorney General Bill Schuette addressed the issue of the possibility of artwork held by the Detroit Institute of Arts, and whether it can be considered a property potentially to be sold to pay off debts owed by the city of Detroit.
He issued formal Attorney General Opinion 7272, which concluded:
It is my opinion, therefore, that the art collection of the Detroit Institute of Arts is held by the City of Detroit in charitable trust for the people of Michigan, and no piece in the collection may thus be sold, conveyed, or transferred to satisfy City debts or obligations."
Previously, Detroit's emergency financial manager Kevyn Orr had stated that Detroit's creditors might consider the DIA's art collection as assets that they could go after, in an effort to collect money that is owed them. The art held by the Detroit Institute of Arts is valued in the millions of dollars,