June 6, 2014 at 10:54 pm

Automakers to contribute $26M to DIA's share of 'grand bargain'

The Detroit Institute of Arts has about 2,800 city-owned pieces of art that have been valued at between $454 million and $867 million. (Daniel Mears / The Detroit News)

The Detroit Institute of Arts is expected to announce Monday that the city’s hometown automakers will contribute about $26 million toward the museum’s $100 million share of a fund to aid city workers’ pensions, The Detroit News has learned.

General Motors Co. and Ford Motor Co., through their charitable foundations, are expected to make contributions of $10 million each toward the effort to protect the DIA art collection in Detroit’s bankruptcy, sources close to the situation have told The News.

Chrysler Group LLC has committed a $6 million donation, a source confirmed Friday.

The DIA said Friday it would make a “major” announcement regarding its role in the so-called “grand bargain” that pools $466 million in private funds and $195 million in state tax dollars to limit cuts to pensions for 32,000 past and present city workers.

“Ford has been a longtime supporter of the DIA and its contributions to southeast Michigan,” Ford spokesman Todd Nissen said Friday. “We are having confidential discussions with the DIA but do not have any announcements to make at this time.”

In exchange for the money and a consensual resolution to Detroit’s historic bankruptcy, the DIA’s contribution to the pension funds would help the museum sever its ties to municipal government and shield its 60,000-piece collection from a fire sale to satisfy city creditors.

DTE Energy Co. also has been considering a $5 million contribution, a source said.

It’s still to be determined over how many years the automakers and their charitable foundations would make the contributions to the DIA, sources said.

The DIA has pledged $100 million over 20 years, though the city’s bankruptcy reorganization plan says the museum can get a discount for contributing money up front.

The Michigan Legislature on Tuesday approved a lump sum $194.8 million state contribution toward the pension rescue fund, a discount from the $350 million 20-year pledge Gov. Rick Snyder made in January.

Twelve regional and national foundations have pledged $366 million over 20 years toward rescuing pensioners from deep reductions in their retirement benefits and preserving the art collection in Detroit.

Monday’s announcement is expected to kick off the museum’s fundraising drive, sources said, in an effort to get other big Michigan corporations to contribute to the cause.

DIA leaders have reportedly already approached Dan Gilbert’s Quicken Loans Inc. and affiliated companies, and industrialist Roger Penske, among others, for donations.

The museum’s efforts to raise the $100 million for the bankruptcy settlement come as it is in the midst of a campaign to more than double its endowment to $400 million in 10 years.

As of June 2013, the DIA’s endowment stood at $152 million.

The DIA said in a statement Friday that museum Director Graham Beal and board chairman Eugene Gargaro Jr. will make a “major grand bargain announcement” at 11 a.m. Monday in the Woodward Avenue museum’s famous Riveria Court. Snyder “will offer remarks” at the announcement, his office said Friday.

When reached by The News, DIA executive vice president and chief operating officer Annmarie Erickson declined comment.

About 2,800 city-owned pieces of art have been valued at between $454 million and $867 million. Some creditors want Detroit to sell the art to help settle the city’s debt.

But the plan avoids the sale by effectively transferring city-owned art to a private nonprofit that would be entrusted with the 60,000-piece collection.

The 100-gallery DIA has been a city-owned museum since 1919.

clivengood@detroitnews.com
Detroit News Staff Writer Michael Hodges and the Associated Press contributed.