DETROIT (CBS Detroit) Among the many questions to come out of Detroit’s bankruptcy filing — the largest in municipal history — is this: “What happens to the art?”
While the answer is still unclear, Christie’s Appraisals Inc., the largest auction house in the world, confirmed Monday they were hired by the city to appraise city owned items 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,” Christie’s said in a press release.
The DIA has a world-renowned collection of art worth millions of dollars, including works from Van Gogh and Whistler and the famous “Industry Frescoes” by Diego Rivera. Thousands of creditors are clamoring for money from the city, which owes $18 billion, as the city navigates through a first-of-its-kind bankruptcy situation.
Emergency manager Kevyn Orr has been largely mum on the subject of whether the city could sell art to repay creditors, except to say when he announced that Detroit was filing for bankruptcy that Howdy Doody, the DIA-owned marionette from the original TV show, was not for sale.
Christie’s said the appraisal “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.”
The firm added: “At Christie’s, we are passionate about art and understand the importance of the contribution that institutions such as the Detroit Institute of Arts offer to the community and the world at large. We are proud of our long history of support to museums, including the DIA. We want to continue to focus our efforts on being a positive force in both the interests of the City of Detroit and its arts community, including working with our fellow arts professionals at the DIA and with the City to find alternatives to selling that would still provide the City with needed revenue.