Traverse City Record-Eagle

Michigan

June 10, 2014

Automakers to help save Detroit's art treasures

DETROIT (AP) — General Motors, Ford and Chrysler are driving into Detroit’s bankruptcy reorganization by pledging $26 million to help support retiree pensions while keeping the city’s art treasures off the auction block, officials announced Monday.

The money will go toward city pensions and will be part of the Detroit Institute of Arts’ $100 million commitment to what’s being called the “grand bargain” to resolve the largest public bankruptcy in U.S. history. It’s helping keep city-owned pieces in the museum off the auction block as some creditors demand they be sold to pay off some of Detroit’s billions in debt.

Of the $26 million, $10 million will come from Ford Motor Co., $6 million from Chrysler Group LLC, $5 million from General Motors Co. and $5 million from the General Motors Foundation.

“The city needs more and specifically the city needs cash,” Reid Bigland, head of U.S. sales for Chrysler, said during the announcement at the museum.

Since leaving bankruptcy protection itself in 2009, GM has posted about $20 billion in earnings and currently has a cash stockpile of $27 billion. Chrysler has earned nearly $4 billion since exiting bankruptcy and had $12.5 billion in cash at the end of the first quarter.

Last week, the Michigan Legislature approved sending $195 million to Detroit’s two retirement systems, and Gov. Rick Snyder has said he will sign the bill. A dozen foundations also have committed about $360 million.

The influx of money for pensions has become part of state-appointed emergency manager Kevyn Orr’s plan of adjustment, which is Detroit’s roadmap through and beyond bankruptcy.

As part of the deal, the museum and its assets would be transferred to a private nonprofit. About 2,800 city-owned artworks have been valued at between $454 million and $867 million.

Museum officials would not say how much more it needs to reach its $100 million goal. “We continue to fundraise,” spokeswoman Pam Marcil said.

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