Edgar Degas judiciously advised, “Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.” U.S. District Court Chief Judge Gerald E. Rosen provided the pathway to make others recognize the important value in art to preserve a city. Judge Rosen was appointed as the chief federal mediator in the nation’s largest, most high profile municipal-bankruptcy case. His mediation team helped Detroit exit its record-setting municipal bankruptcy as well as avoid the possible tragedy unfolding if Detroit was forced to sell its art. There is no doubt that art meaningfully created a future for Detroit in the wake of its bankruptcy struggles.

The Federal Bar Association is proud to announce that the Hon. Gerald Rosen will be the keynote speaker on Nov. 30 at the first annual Art Law & Litigation Conference in Miami, Florida. To register, please visit: www.fedbar.org/ArtLaw16. The South Florida Chapter and the Intellectual Property Section have crafted a distinctive conference with distinguished art law litigators, respected art fair executive directors, and the artists themselves.

The city-owned Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA), an impressive, Beaux-Arts style building is filled with Van Goghs and Renoirs. The DIA is home to more than 60,000 creative works from ancient times through the 21st century, including the first Van Gogh painting to enter a U.S. museum (Self-Portrait, 1887) and Diego Rivera’s celebrated Detroit Industry murals (1932–33).

The “Grand Bargain” raised millions from foundations and donors to pay for the art so that the city could fund part of its pension shortfall. Judge Rosen spearheaded the deal that preserved the city’s world-class art museum in a perpetual public trust, and prevented drastic cuts to pension and related retiree benefits. The way in which art and its intrinsic value aided a city in turmoil is a riveting story and begs the question, could the “Grand Bargain” be a model for other insolvent cities?

When he was appointed lead mediator in Detroit’s Chapter 9 bankruptcy case, Judge Rosen sat down and looked at what assets the city had that might be monetized. Detroit’s “Grand Bargain” allowed the city to essentially sell the Detroit Art Museum to a collection of foundations, nonprofits, and other donors to raise money for its underfunded pensions. Then-Chief Judge Gerald Rosen of the Eastern District of Michigan electrified philanthropic organizations to contribute hundreds of millions toward pension funding. The money shored up Detroit’s pension funds and reduced cuts for retirees.

Judge Rosen spoke of the element that made the “Grand Bargain” so lucrative and successful: “smart people who can get on the same team and look down the road, not just to get their piece of the pie, but to make the municipality healthy so there will be a bigger…pie at the other end.”

Don’t miss this fascinating discussion about art, municipal finance, and bankruptcy on Nov. 30. Sign up today for early bird pricing!


Stacy Slotnick, Esq. holds a J.D., cum laude, from Touro Law Center and a B.A., summa cum laude, from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She performs a broad range of duties as an entertainment lawyer, including drafting and negotiating contracts; addressing and litigating trademark, copyright, patent, and other IP issues; and directing the strategy and implementation of public relations and social media campaigns.