International auction house Christie's says it plans to appraise some pieces of the Detroit Institute of Arts collection over the coming weeks as the city tries to place a value on its assets following the largest municipal bankruptcy filing in U.S. history.
New York-based Christie's says city-owned items in the museum's collection will be examined and it will "recommend ways for the city to realize value for the DIA collection without relinquishing ownership of it." Art could be used as collateral for a loan, for example.
State-appointed emergency manager Kevyn Orr has said some city creditors have asked for the value of city-owned assets. He contracted with Christie's to appraise some DIA pieces.
The DIA statement on Christie's appraisal:
"The Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) has learned that Christie’s, at the request of the Emergency Manager, 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."