Auction house's final report says Detroit art worth $454M - $867M

Christie's turns in valuation to city


DETROIT – According to a report by New York auction house Christie's, the fair market value of city-bought works at the Detroit Institute of Arts is between $454 and $867 million.

The auction house said Wednesday the number was part of the final valuation it had turned in to the city.

Christie's had been conducting an appraisal for the city. A judge Tuesday ruled Detroit is eligible to fix its finances in bankruptcy, and some creditors seek a role in determining whether art could be used to raise money.

Special section: Detroit bankruptcy

The auction house says the included art in the report represents just under five percent of the museum's total collection of about 66,000 works.

Christie's has previously released a preliminary report in early December, which put the art between a value of $452 million to $866 million.

Read: Detroit Institute of Arts statement on Detroit's bankruptcy filing

Christie's five alternatives to selling the art include using it as collateral to secure loans or lines of credit and creating a partnership with another museum where the art would be leased out on a long-term basis.
The auction house also said the city could establish a trust from which U.S. museums "rent" the city-owned art. Minority interests would be sold to individual museums, and revenue from the sale of these shares would be paid to Detroit.

The auction house didn't include in its preliminary report how much money could be raised if the city chose any of the alternatives.

Orr's office had not yet made the final report public as of early Wednesday afternoon. His spokesman, Bill Nowling, said the emergency manager had to review it first.

Detroit's debt is at least$18 billion, which includes $5.7billion in unfunded retiree health care obligations and $3.5billion in unfunded pension liabilities, according to Orr.

The Detroit Institute of Arts is considered one of the top art museums in the country. It holds artwork by Van Gogh, Monet, Renoir and other greats. Rodin's massive bronze sculpture The Thinker was gifted to the museum in1922 and sits outside the building's main entrance.

Detroit Institute of Arts Statement on Christie's Evaluation:  

The Detroit Institute of Arts maintains its position that the City of Detroit and the museum hold the art collection in trust for the citizens of Detroit and Michigan. This report mirrors the preliminary report issued by Christies, with the addition of an itemized list. The museum does not intend to comment on the report. An earlier statement regarding Christie's suggestions for "monetizing" the DIA collection has been slightly amended and is below. Beyond that we suggest that specific questions be directed to Christie's. 

Detroit Institute of Arts Statement on Ideas for Monetizing the Collection: 

Four of the five alternatives outlined by Christie's have already been addressed by the DIA in some detail. In most cases, these alternatives will yield a token amount of money, while placing the collection at substantial risk. The only new idea is the "Masterpiece Trust," and it is completely untested. Further complicating the trust alternative is the lack of specifics and the lack of an economic imperative for participation. With some exceptions, museums generally loan works of art free of charge except for packing and shipping fees. How a "Masterpiece Trust" would be received in the museum community remains to be seen. The DIA remains willing to engage in further discussions and is actively supporting the plan developed by the appointed mediators Chief Judge Gerald Rosen and Eugene Driker. The museum continues to be open to all ideas for assisting in the revitalization of Detroit, provided we are able to ensure the safety of the collection we hold in public trust.