Experts from Christie's will appraise the collection of the Detroit Institute of Arts as part of the city's bankruptcy proceedings, the museum confirmed in a statement today. As assets owned by the city, the museum's holdings may be subject to possible sale to satisfy the city's debts, which are estimated to be as high as $18 billion. Experts have speculated that the museum's collection could bring $2 billion.
Christie's press office confirmed in a statement that the auction house would conduct the appraisal, and added, "We will also assist and advise on how to realize value for the City while leaving the art in the City's ownership."
The statement from the museum follows in full.
"The Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) has learned that Christie's, at the request of the Emergency Manager [EM], plans to proceed with a valuation of the DIA collection, and we will be cooperating completely in that process. However, we continue to believe there is no reason to value the collection as the Attorney General has made clear that the art is held in charitable trust and cannot be sold as part of a bankruptcy proceeding. We applaud the EM's focus on rebuilding the City, but would point out that he undercuts that core goal by jeopardizing Detroit's most important cultural institution.
"In addition, recent moves in Oakland and Macomb counties to invalidate the tri-county millage if art is sold virtually ensure that any forced sale of art would precipitate the rapid demise of the DIA. Removing $23 million in annual operating funds-nearly 75% of the museum's operating budget-and violating the trust of donors and supporters would cripple the museum, putting an additional financial burden on our already struggling city. The DIA has long been doing business without City of Detroit operating support; any move that compromises its financial stability will endanger the museum and further challenge the City's future."