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Is the DIA ready to sell a Van Gogh?

Quick fix

It's a question that will attract more attention than it might have before Detroit's bankruptcy raised the spectre of selling off the Detroit Institute of Arts  collection to help pay down the city's crushing debt.

Fortunately, the DIA survived unscathed, thanks to $100 million raised by long-time donors.

Detroit News columnist Laura Berman has now learned that the art world is quietly talking about the possibility that the DIA is fixing to sell one of its Van Goghs.

During the bankruptcy, we heard howls of protest from DIA officials like Graham Beal and Annemarie Erickson that selling art would destroy the museum and its reputation.

Then why is suddenly OK to sell?

Berman says selling art to acquire other art is a common practice in the world of art museums that is well within the purview of museum ethics, but director Beal stopped it bankruptcy in order to prevent confusion.

Berman says despite considering the possibility, Graham Beal has categorically denied the auction of the item. She says Beal will likely leave the responsibility of bringing the DIA back into the business of art acquisition  to his successor.

After being out of the loop for so long, the DIA faces growing pains as it re-enters the art auction market. But this is all good news because, as Berman puts it, 'the museum is back to being a museum'.

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