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Bankrupt Detroit's art assets value up to USD866 million - Christie's

December 5
4:04 AM 2013

On Wednesday, Christie's said it had conducted an appraisal of one of the highest-profile assets of the state of Detroit. The auction house said the value of the city's share of the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) collection was around the USD452 million to USD866 million range. The finding by Christie's reported;ly surprised some art experts who thought that the van Gogh and Matisse pieces from the works could pick up a higher price for the state. Detroit had been determined bankrupt under Chapter 9 of the Federal Bankruptcy Code.

Northeastern University law professor and bankruptcy expert Michael Bennett said, "If Christie's is saying that we'd be looking at something less than $1 billion, and perhaps something significantly less than $1 billion, in proceeds from a sale, clearly that's not even a drop in the bucket if you bear in mind the magnitude of the financial deficit of the city."

The report by Christie's did not specify which artworks of the DIA were appraised, but Bloomberg said some of the city's best-known works included an 1887 self-portrait by Vincent van Gogh and "The Window" by Henri Matisse, an oil painting depicting a turquoise-shaded drawing room. DIA was also known to own a rare 1566 painting by Flemish painter Pieter Bruegel the Elder dubbed "The Wedding Dance," which is a depiction of a joyous wedding party.

Detroit was deemed immersed in debt totaling USD18.5 billion, and that the city would have the need to sell part or all of DIA's collection in order to turn the city's financial state around.

Christie's report suggested five alternative solutions regarding the DIA collection, which included using the collection as a loan collateral for the city and an outright sale of the collection. The auction house had appraised a total of 2,781 works fully and partially-owned by the state of Detroit.

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