DETROIT (WWJ/AP) – The day after a judge officially cleared the way for the city to move forward with the biggest municipal bankruptcy case in history, New York auction house Christie’s estimates the fair market value of city-bought works at the Detroit Institute of Arts to be between roughly $450 million and $870 million.
City officials and residents have vocally opposed any effort to sell the jewels at the DIA to pay off the city’s thousands of creditors, with state-appointed emergency manager Kevyn Orr going on record to say Howdy Doody, the venerable puppet from the 1950s TV show, which is part of the DIA collection, was “not for sale.”
Despite the protests, creditors apparently wanted a report on the value of the items at the DIA. Christie’s disclosed the estimate Wednesday in a release announcing it submitted a preliminary report to the city. The auction house says the included art represents only about five percent of the museum’s total collection of about 66,000 works.
Christie’s provided both a low and high range fair market value for each appraised work of art and for the aggregate total. It says eleven works of art currently on display at the museum account for 75 percent of its estimate, but declined to specifically identify the pieces.
The auction house says it’s recommending alternatives to selling the art that could generate value in a full report later this month.
“As this process moves forward, we trust our findings will provide a useful foundation for the city to engage in further discussion with the creditors and the DIA, and for all parties involved to make informed decisions about best use of the city’s assets,” Doug Woodham, President of Christie’s Americas, said in a statement.
The DIA is considered one of the top art museums in the country. The city purchased many of the pieces in the collection years ago during more prosperous times, which are considered as assets. Estimates of the DIA’s complete collection come in around $4 billion.
A judge on Tuesday ruled that Detroit is eligible to fix its finances in bankruptcy, and some creditors seek a role in determining whether the art could be used to pay off part the city’s estimated $18 billion debt.
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