Christie’s Final Assessment of Detroit Artworks: Up To $867 Million



Christie’s has rendered its final verdict on the value of a number of artworks purchased with city of Detroit funds and currently in the collection of the Detroit Institute of Arts. In a report delivered today to emergency manager Kevyn Orr, the New York auction house assesses the works, including pieces by Bruegel, van Gogh and Cézanne, at between $454 million and $867 million. This is slightly higher than its preliminary estimate of $452 million to $866 million, released on Dec. 2.

The artworks are being appraised as part of the city’s bankruptcy proceedings. Some of the city’s creditors have pushed for selling the artworks. Orr has stated that all options for paying down the city’s $18 billion shortfall must be on the table.

The examples in question, numbering just under 2,800, represent slightly less than five percent of the approximately 66,000 pieces in the Institute’s collection, according to Christie’s.

The 150-page report also includes recommendations for alternative methods for the city to “gain value from the . . . works while retaining ownership of them.” These include taking out a loan with the artworks as collateral, leasing the objects to another museum or sending them on the road in a traveling exhibition.

In a statement, the Detroit Institute of Arts responded, “In most cases, these alternatives will yield a token amount of money, while placing the collection at substantial risk.”