Traverse City Record-Eagle


December 19, 2013

Christie's says Detroit art worth up to $867M

DETROIT (AP) — Christie's auction house has completed its final report on the value of about 2,800 city-owned pieces in the Detroit Institute of Arts and has offered alternatives to a potential sale to satisfy creditors during the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history.

The report was delivered Wednesday to Detroit emergency manager Kevyn Orr. New York-based Christie's said its fair market valuation of the artwork increased from a preliminary range of $452 million to $866 million to $454 million to $867 million.

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.

"We trust that both aspects of our report will serve as a useful resource for the emergency manager as he continues to evaluate this element of the city's debt restructuring process," Doug Woodham, president of Christie's Americas, said in a release.

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.

Museum leaders said four of the alternatives outlined by Christie's already have been addressed by the museum.

"In most cases, these alternatives will yield a token amount of money, while placing the collection at substantial risk," the museum said in a statement.

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