Alarming news from Detroit, where the city’s $15 billion debt has led to the entire contents of the Detroit Institute of Arts being seen as a disposable asset by the city’s emergency manager. More details here and here.
Right now no one knows exactly how much the collection is worth. A rough estimate is approximately $3 billion. It is somewhat taboo to appraise publicly owned art, as there is the belief it should not be put on the market.
A statement released by the emergency manager’s spokesperson said, “While there is no plan to sell any assets, it is possible that the city’s creditors could demand the city use its assets to settle its debts. The emergency manager has alerted certain assets, including the DIA, that they might face exposure to creditors should the city be forced to seek Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection. This is a precautionary measure.”
In the meantime, choose which piece of African Art you would buy in the presentation of the Africa, Oceanica & Indigenous Americas collection here. I love their Yaka figure, but my final decision would be this Bamana figure.
UPDATE: please take note that Christie’s (Paris) is selling 14 African objects from the collection of the Art Institute of Chicago next month; see lot 61-74 here – with a special mention for this important Baga headdress. Many of them were only recently donated to the museum, so I guess there were given without restrictions that would prevent a sale.
UPDATE 2: more recent news here. The objects illustrated in this post were or bought by the DIA itself or donated to the museum and thus can not be sold.