Auction house contracted by EM Orr to appraise DIA collection

Detroit EM Kevyn Orr hires Christie's auction house to appraise art collection


Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr has contracted Christie's, a New York-based auction house, to appraise the art collection inside the Detroit Institute of Art.
The announcement was released Monday afternoon by the world-famous auction house.

Even before Detroit's bankruptcy filings started move through the court, there was concern the DIA collection could be on the line.

Christie's sent two representatives to check out the art for an appraisal. It is something that doesn't sit well with the visitors.

Watch: Bankruptcy weighs on DIA visitors

Orr said in a statement that the appraisal is part of a city-wide survey of assets to help the restructuring process.

Christie's said in a statement, "We confirm that Christie's Appraisals Inc. was asked and has entered into an agreement to appraise a portion of the City owned collection at the Detroit Institute of Art.  In addition we will also assist and advise on how to realize value for the City while leaving the art in the City's ownership. Appraisal of organizations and individual collections is a regular part of our normal business and Christie's was asked to assist due to our expertise in this area across all fine art categories and eras.  We understand that a valuation of all the City's assets (extending well beyond the art) is one of many steps that will be necessary for the legal system to reach a conclusion about the best long term solution for the citizens of Detroit."

Read: DIA millage could be lost if art is sold to pay creditors

The DIA released the following statement in response to this news:

"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."

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