The Slatest

Public School Teacher Leaves $1.7 Million to Detroit Institute of Arts

The Detroit Institute of Arts in a photo taken May 31, 2013.

Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

Here’s a nice thing amid the usual ocean of bad news: A public school art teacher who volunteered at the Detroit Institute of Arts shocked the museum by leaving it $1.7 million in her will—money that no one knew she had. From the Detroit Free Press:

The DIA announced today that Verdow, who died in 2014 at the age of 86, has given the museum a bequest of $1.71 million. Verdow stipulated that $1.26 million be used to buy contemporary art paintings and sculpture, while $450,000 be funneled into the museum’s endowment for annual operations.

DIA planned giving officer Deborah Odette said that Verdow had told DIA officials in 2003 that she was going to leave the museum a gift, but she never indicated the size or scope she had in mind. Verdow never married, had no children and her only living relative is a distant cousin who lives out of state. 

Verdow, who worked in the Detroit Public Schools, volunteered at the DIA’s gift shop for 19 years beginning in 1990. “She was part of what I called my ‘Sunday sunshine’ crew,” a former manager told the Detroit News.