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Works at Detroit Institute of Arts valued at $452 to $866 million

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A day after a bankruptcy judge gave final approvals to the City of Detroit bankruptcy filing the value of the collection of city-purchased art at the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) was revealed. This morning Christie’s Auction House of New York City disclosed in a public filing the collection of 66,000 pieces of artwork is worth between $452 and $866 million dollars.

Only artwork purchased by the city was appraised as donated pieces cannot be liquidated according to a report in The Detroit Free Press.

Christie’s report to emergency manager Kevyn Orr, appointed by Gov. Rick Snyder, also says the auction house will offer options the city has with the artwork, which could generate revenues without selling the pieces when a final report is issued later this month according to Christie’s preliminary report today.

According to Reuters, Orr is paying Christie’s $200,000 for the appraisal.

Creditors generally want to raise as much money as possible in order to build the pool of funds available to be split among those the city owed at the time of the filing.

However the collection may not be in jeopardy. According to a report in The Detroit News U. S. Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes may not support selling off the art.

“When the expenses of an enterprise exceeds its revenue, a one-time infusion of cash, whether from an asset sale or borrowing, only delays inevitable financial failure unless the enterprise reduces expenses or enhances income,” the paper quotes Rhodes as saying.

Counties in the Detroit metropolitan area support the DIA through a property tax levy approved by tax-payers in each county. The levy becomes void should any of the DIA collection be sold according to the wording on the ballot when approved by the electorate.

When Kmart filed for bankruptcy in 2002 creditors were successful in getting valuable pieces of art sold-off to raise funds for the final settlement. However prior CEO Chuck Conaway had already donated some of the larger pieces, including the sculpture “Corporate Head” which adorned the entrance to the retailer’s Troy, Mich., headquarters.

Detroit politics in books

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