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Report: Detroit art valued at more than $4.6B

Published on NewsOK Modified: July 9, 2014 at 5:09 pm •  Published: July 9, 2014
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DETROIT (AP) — Treasures in the Detroit Institute of Arts eyed for sale by some creditors in the city's historic bankruptcy could be worth more than $4.6 billion, but likely would fetch a quarter of that or less in a forced liquidation, according to a new report.

The evaluation given this week to the DIA and the city by New York-based Artvest Partners LLC says a decline in the value of fine art in some sectors and other market forces might result in only $1.1 billion for the 60,377 pieces housed in the art museum.

"An immediate liquidation of the art collection will result in selling the DIA collection at a fraction of its fair market value," according to the report.

Artwork in the museum has become a key part of Detroit's bankruptcy proceedings. Some creditors want it sold to satisfy some of the city's debt. But the state, a group of private foundations and the DIA have pledged more than $800 million in a so-called "grand bargain" to ease cuts to retiree pensions while placing the art in trust — and out of the hands of creditors.

A prior appraisal by Christie's auction house placed the value of 2,800 of those city-owned works at between $454 million and $867 million.

Flooding the market with art could decrease the overall value. Christie's and Sotheby's, listed as the two main houses for such an auction, also may refuse to sell the pieces in fear of damaging relationships with the broader museum community, according to the new report.

It also may be difficult to sell some of the museum's most prominent pieces.

"There are several hundred works protected by donor restrictions and many of those are high-value works and those most likely would be eliminated by a sale," DIA Executive Vice President Annmarie Erickson told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

Some works by Picasso, Van Gogh, Cezanne and Renoir are among those considered "restricted."

"This report verifies what we have said all along. It is very easy to talk about selling art, but it is very difficult to do it," Erickson said.

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