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Oakland Co. might stop funding DIA if any artwork is sold

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Detroit Institute of Arts Detroit Institute of Arts
DETROIT (WJBK) -

L. Brooks Patterson may be focused on Oakland County, but you had better believe he has his eyes on the DIA.

Christie's Auction House is appraising the City of Detroit's art collection. Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr says appraising the art does not mean it will be sold, but the Oakland County executive isn't so sure.

"Do you feel like this is a step in a potential sale," I asked Patterson.

"Oh, yeah," he said. "They're free to sell it, they really are."

If that happens, Oakland County wants to make one thing clear.

"Don't expect us to keep sending money down from the suburbs, from Oakland and Macomb, to support the art collection when you've sold it off," Patterson said.

Oakland County is considering a resolution to stop paying the DIA millage if any of the art is sold.

Voters in Oakland, Macomb and Wayne counties approved a millage last year that generates more than $20 million for the DIA. Oakland County contributes nearly half of that.

"Our team put in all those protective clauses. Less than a year later, they're talking about doing exactly what we protected ourselves against," Patterson said.

A 1997 contract between the City of Detroit and the DIA says the artwork can only be used to enhance the museum, not pay off creditors. Without tax dollars from the suburbs, the DIA could be forced to close its doors.

The DIA released a statement indicating the museum understands Oakland County's concern.

Meanwhile, the Oakland County Art Authority will consider the resolution next Tuesday.

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