Detroit may have to rely on the generosity of strangers to keep its impressive art collection that was amassed with taxpayer dollars in better times.
The bankrupt city is expected to learn this week the value of roughly 2,800 of its pieces at the Detroit Institute of Arts when New York auction house Christie's delivers its final report to Kevin Orr, the state-appointed emergency manager who currently runs the Motor City's finances.
Christie's, which has been poring over the collection for months, said it will include recommendations for how Detroit might make money while maintaining ownership of some of its most valuable pieces—including Degas' "Dancers in the Green Room," Pisano's "The Path" and Renoir's "Graziella." But the city may have to sell off works many consider integral to the cultural soul of the city in order to help repay creditors, including retired public workers whose pensions could take a huge hit.
(Read more: Detroit eligible for bankruptcy protection: Judge)
Orr had warned museum officials of the works' potential fate, creating an outcry in the art community here and elsewhere.