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Detroit bankruptcy could force museums to auction off cultural treasures to help pay city debt

If Detroit falls into bankruptcy, its top art museum is concerned that some of its treasures could end up on the auction block.

Selling masterpieces by Van Gogh, Renoir and Matisse would help pay Detroit's many debts but it would also strip the city of its cultural riches.

Kevyn Orr is the bankruptcy expert hired to steer Detroit away from insolvency. His office says there are no plans to sell city history but that everything of value owned by the city could be up for grabs. Even public zoo animals and historic automobiles could be targeted.

Others aren't so sure. The Detroit Institute of Arts is looking into the issue. The Michigan attorney general and the state Senate have cast doubt on whether such sales would be legal.

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