PONTIAC (WWJ/AP) – Oakland County says it will stop collecting a tax for the Detroit Institute of Arts if any museum art is sold to pay creditors in Detroit’s bankruptcy.

Voters in Oakland, Wayne and Macomb counties last year approved a controversial millage to support the Detroit museum in exchange for free admission.

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Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson supports the action taken Tuesday by a five-member board that administers the museum tax in his county. He says the DIA’s art must be untouched.

This comes after Christie’s Appraisals Inc., the largest auction house in the world, early this month confirmed they were hired by Detroit to appraise city-owned items at the DIA, following the largest municipal bankruptcy filing in U.S. history.

Although the DIA doesn’t believe the art can be sold to satisfy city debt, DIA Director Graham Beal admits he’s worried.

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Beal said he would expect the counties to regard sale of art as “a breach of faith,” and that such a sale would likely result in the millage being immediately suspended.

“And that would precipitate — as we were talking about a year ago, before the vote — that would drive the DIA into a controlled shut down,” Beal said. [More on this HERE]

Detroit emergency manager Kevyn Orr says he doesn’t want to sell the art but was obligated to get an appraisal. Orr was hired by the state last spring to get the city’s financial house in order.

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