Mellon Foundation and Getty Trust Pledge $13M to Detroit “Grand Bargain”


New York’s Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the J. Paul Getty Trust, Los Angeles, have pledged $13 million toward a “grand bargain” to protect the collection of the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) from seizure as part of the city’s bankruptcy proceedings. As one facet of that deal, the museum has pledged to raise $100 million for the city’s pensioners in exchange for safeguarding the collection. Several car companies and their foundations pledged $26 million earlier this week.

The Mellon Foundation would give $10 million, the Getty Trust $3 million. Half the Mellon’s offering is contingent on the museum raising the rest of the $100 million.

The agreement would shield the museum’s holdings, including examples by Bruegel, van Gogh and Cézanne, from seizure by the city’s creditors.

In 2013, Christie’s appraised 2,800 of the museum’s artworks, purchased with city funding, at between $454 million and $867 million. Emergency manager Kevyn Orr has said that all options for paying down the city’s $18 billion shortfall must be on the table.

The grand bargain, proposed by the bankruptcy mediators, led by U.S District Court chief judge Gerald Rosen, would provide Detroit’s pensioners with $800 million from local donors, local and national foundations and the state over a 20-year period, according to a statement from the museum. As part of the bargain, the city of Detroit would transfer ownership of the DIA’s collection, building and related assets to the private nonprofit that currently operates the museum.