Timmy elsewhere

On Radio 4, 4 pm this arvo.

Talking about the Detroit art collection.

Of course it should bloody well be sold. What’s more important? The zip code of the wall a painting hangs on or paying peoples’ pensions and health care?

28 thoughts on “Timmy elsewhere”

  1. I’d say there’s a point at which not spending is a better option than continuing to spend in an unsustainable way. Getting to the point of selling the art collection indicates that the current spending model is not very sustainable.

  2. The zip code of the wall a painting hangs on or paying peoples’ pensions

    I take exception to your suggestion that government workers are people. 😉

  3. it depends on whether the paintings can be treated as a continuing income stream – eg the Louvre, National Gallery and numerous collections around the world. At low interest rates, the authorities should borrow against the collateral of the collection.

  4. Bloke in Costa Rica

    There’s not much to be done with Detroit except moving the population to a safe distance, nuking it, waiting for it to cool down, and starting over.

  5. The denial is breathtaking: “I’m a Detroit pensioner and I don’t think we should call it ‘Art -v- pensions’.” Alright then buddy, where’s the money coming from for your pension?
    “I’ve not been there but I’m gonna go one of these days. We shouldn’t sell”
    Breathtaking.

  6. Can’t someone make a 3D printer/scanner that scans the painting in high-resolution and extrudes paint onto a canvas to create a near perfect copy? Seriously, the gallery could spend a few million on trying and then copy that $100m artwork.

    Because that’s what going to art galleries is about, right, to see the art?

  7. The most valid counter-argument is the same one that applies to any asset disposal. This will plug the budget deficit this year, but next year the situation will be just as bad, and we’ll have no assets left to dispose.

    At least it’s not as bad as Arizona, who sold their capitol (the state’s legislative building) and leased it back. In the short-term it solved their budget deficit for a year or two; but in the long term it was a terrible investment, especially considering that the government can borrow at much lower interest rates than whoever they sold it to.

  8. Bloke in Costa Rica

    diogenes: I think only Dutch and Flemish Belgian people can get the genuine hawking-up-snot pronunciation correct.

  9. So Much for Subtlety

    The zip code of the wall a painting hangs on or paying peoples’ pensions and health care?

    Actually I think the real question is whether the political class of Detroit should be allowed to loot everything, but just virtually everything.

    Don’t sell. They have stolen enough. Leave the smoking ruins with something.

  10. Tim…from wiki

    “The Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA), located in Midtown Detroit, Michigan, has one of the largest, most significant art collections in the United States. In 2003, the DIA ranked as the second largest municipally owned museum in the United States. Its art collection has been valued at $8.1 billion, according to a 2014 appraisal.[1][2] With over 100 galleries, it covers 658,000 square feet (61,130 m²); a major renovation and expansion project completed in 2007 added 58,000 square feet (5,388 m²).[3] The museum building is highly regarded by architects.[4] The original building, designed by Paul Philippe Cret, is flanked by north and south wings with the white marble as the main exterior material for the entire structure. It is part of the city’s Cultural Center Historic District listed in the National Register of Historic Places”

    Selling this stuff would be the least sensible way of dealing wityh this problem. Imagine if the Uffizi had sold the collection in 1500….

  11. I know you are colour blind and have no taste for art but…other people do and will pay…and that includes millions of Chinese tourists but your purblind taste cannot see that art tourism has a place in the world economy

  12. So Much for Subtlety

    diogenes – “I know you are colour blind and have no taste for art but…other people do and will pay…and that includes millions of Chinese tourists but your purblind taste cannot see that art tourism has a place in the world economy”

    But they will pay to see those paintings if they hang in Peoria or LA or Abu Dhabi. If they want to see them, they will see them. It is not as if many private collectors are out there buying paintings of this quality to hang in their bathrooms.

    The question is whether Detroit is to be left with nothing or it will have something to re-build. The nucking from orbit solution does seem the most likely response, but perhaps they will try something else.

  13. but SMFS

    if the npaintings hang in Abu Dhabi, how will the residents of Detroit benefit? Meanwhile, residents of Leningrad benefit from tourism to leningrad, which includes tours of the Hermitage. How nmuch of the UK GNP (not GDP) is represented by invisibles such as tourism?

  14. Tim – (assuming your comment was directed at me) – To clarify, Detroit certainly should sell their art, because the City’s revenue from gallery entry fees and art-related tourism isn’t nearly enough to cover the cost of capital. But they should have done that years ago anyway: they didn’t need to wait for bankruptcy to come knocking.

    But should they do an Arizona, selling assets and leasing them back at a higher price? This doesn’t actually fix their balance sheet: they’ve sold one asset, but they’ve gained a bigger liability (the lease). I can’t see a bankruptcy judge approving such an action.

    At the heart of Detroit’s problem is the mismatch between liabilities (promises made to pensioners) and assets. A strict application of bankruptcy law would liquidate both sides of the ledger: the assets get sold, but the pensioners should be shafted too. Since the pensionsers aren’t being shoved aside, we can see that the standard rules of bankruptcy aren’t being applied.

    In the long run, the over-plucked, loudly-hissing goose that is the Detroit taxpayer will continue to vote with his webbed feet and move out of town. This in turn will trigger another bankruptcy, repeated every few years for the next couple of decades.

  15. diogenes,
    Cruise ships disembark every day at St Petersburg to see the Hermitage, and the Vatican are having to restrict entry numbers to the Sistine Chapel. But nobody is making an artistic pilgrimage to Detroit. The city is best known for cars and rap music, not art. They should stick to their comparative advantage.

  16. “If the paintings hang in Abu Dhabi, how will the residents of Detroit benefit?”

    Anyone with an IQ > hat size moved out of Detroit 20+ years ago. Those that are left aren’t worried about the state of the arts in Wayne County… They aren’t the sort that spent a relaxing Sunday afternoon studying oil paintings.

  17. bloke (not) in spain

    “Can’t someone make a 3D printer/scanner that scans the painting in high-resolution…..etc”

    There is a better & easier solution. A high def stereoscopic image set, seen through a video headset.

    It would probably be better than the real thing. No-one next to you jostling for position. Large choice of viewing angles & close-up. Possibilities of choice of lighting to bring out brushing techniques. Unlimited viewing time in comfort.

    Paintings are, after all, a visual experience. The eye is detecting light originating at the image. There’s nothing more to it. All the “But it’s not the real thing. To be in the presence of…” is purest woo.

  18. bloke (not) in spain

    @TMB
    Lets not get all technical on this, eh?
    For hung paintings in galleries, for practical purposes it does originate at the canvas. Galleries go to enormous trouble to avoid extraneous lighting effects.
    It’s one reason I like this solution for viewing art. The one venue few paintings were painted to be viewed in was a gallery. They were painted to be seen in palaces, churches, homes… Under the lighting conditions of palaces, churches, homes… Imagine seeing a Rembrandt lit by candle-light.

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