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Detroit-area millionaire offers $5 million to help protect city art: report

People look at a mural by artist Diego Rivera at the Art Institute of Detroit in Detroit, Michigan December 3, 2013. REUTERS/Joshua Lott
People look at a mural by artist Diego Rivera at the Art Institute of Detroit in Detroit, Michigan December 3, 2013. REUTERS/Joshua Lott

DETROIT (Reuters) - A Detroit-area entrepreneur has offered to donate $5 million to help protect the collection of the Detroit Institute of Arts from being sold or otherwise monetized as part of Detroit's bankruptcy, the Detroit Free Press reported on Friday.

A. Paul Schaap, founder of diagnostics research firm Lumigen Inc, told the paper he planned to meet on Friday with U.S. Judge Gerald Rosen, the lead mediator in the bankruptcy, to discuss the potential donation.

"I have to believe there are more of us out there who want to do something and didn't quite know how to approach it," Schaap told the Free Press.

Schaap did not immediately reply to a request for comment. Lumigen is based in Southfield, Michigan.

The Detroit Insitute of Arts' collection is owned by the city of Detroit, and Rosen has asked a number of charitable foundations to create a fund to purchase the art from the city and create an independent nonprofit to run the museum.

Auction house Christie's on Wednesday released a preliminary report commissioned by the city that valued the portion of the collection bought with city funds at between $452 million and $866 million. The Christie's report also suggested five strategies for monetizing the art collection without selling it outright.

The appraisal of about 5 percent of the museum's collection, which included works by van Gogh and Matisse, surprised some experts who thought the collection might be more valuable.

A group of the city's largest creditors last month asked the bankruptcy judge overseeing Detroit's case to approve an independent valuation of the collection.

Detroit has more than $18 billion in debt, and on Tuesday it became the largest U.S. city ever to be declared legally bankrupt.

(Reporting by Joseph Lichterman; editing by Matthew Lewis)

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