Museum Yard Sale? Detroit’s Deficit & Denial



 ”How much for the Picasso with the grumpy old lady?”

“$4 million.”

“Would you take two?”

“Umm.  Let me ask my wife.”

The painting reminds me so much of an estate sale my wife and I dropped in on in Bloomfield Hills.  It was a fabulous house with riches galore–all at marked down prices.  The Coach handbags, for example, were only $250 for crying out loud.

And there, in the dining room, in the corner glaring at us vultures, was the owner.  I’m not sure where her husband was.  We concocted all kinds of scenarios involving some Ponzi-schemer now in prison and his better-half needing to pay the legal expenses.  But she was bitter and her wine glass was re-filled twice before we left the place.

Yesterday, a Michigan State Senate committee passed a bill that would protect the Detroit Institute of Arts fabulous collection from being sold to help pay the bills for the city’s financial deficit. (link)

And there was much rejoicing…


It was a hypothetical threat–one that the Emergency Financial Manager responsible for addressing Detroit’s deficit that is $16 billion  That’s right–that’s the other “b” word.

And like any husband and wife sitting down with the budget, you’ve got to look at everything. 

“Do you want to sell one of the kids?”

“I don’t think we can do that.”

“Oh, right.  I was just thinking out loud.  How about getting rid of the car?”

“We kind of need that.”

“Oh yeah.”

“You’re sure about the kid-thing?”

“Pretty sure.”

“Hmm.. I don’t know what else we can sell.”

It seems like a an insurmountable problem.  But the first thing number-crunchers do is look at everything.  And Tom Walsh, if you can trust that last name, pointed out in the Free Press last week, there is a good bit of denial when it comes to which cows in the herd are sacred.  (link)

photo 2

I think selling an art collection sounds pretty absurd and would rather see a few other things get examined first, particularly since I’m a big fan of the DIA.  But then I’m reminded, as well, of one of my favorite obscure bits of art within art there.

photo 3

The knight on the left has some early tattoo-work…


It’s actually the original owner wearing the suit we’re looking at stopping by to worship Jesus on the cross…


You’ve got to admire the ego of someone who would put a portrait of himself on his own clothing–let alone eternal clothing like a suit of armor.  But to add him to the big scene at Calvary is one more step toward the questionable kneeling going on here.  If he’s really that humble, maybe he should have chosen a different visitor–maybe Mary or an apostle or two?

It’s impressive to see how fast this Senate can move when it’s got a hot-button issue like protecting artwork.  And I’m not up for the yard-sale by any means.  But I think, like our knight with his initial meeting with his armorer/tailor, perhaps the focus may have slipped a little.


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About Kevin Walsh

Kevin began in 2013 as an experiment that was as simple as "What's a blog?" and ended up becoming a forum for fellow writers. He's been a high school teacher for 28 years and worked as an administrator and instructor in colleges for 6. Contact him at: He is also the producer of the web-series and blog, www.DiggingDetroit, founder and producer for MMD Productions at which offers quick, professional photography, video and multimedia solutions for individuals, organizations and businesses. His high school media production text, "Video Direct," has been used in 40 states--and he occasionally still sells a few. He is the current president of the non-profit DAFT (Digital Arts Film and Television) which sponsors the Michigan Student Film Festival. He lives in Royal Oak, Michigan, is married to Patrice and is tolerated by his two kids Aidan and Abby who have all graciously allowed him to write about them on occasion. Follow Kevin on Twitter @kwteacher

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