Christie’s appraisal of the Detroit Institute of Arts

Image courtesy of the Detroit Institute of Arts.

Image courtesy of the Detroit Institute of Arts.

As previously discussed here, Detroit’s bankruptcy had started the discussion to sell part of the DIA’s collection. Early December, a US judge ruled that the city is eligible for bankruptcy, which means that asset sales can go ahead. One of the city’s most valuable assets is its art collection in the DIA. Until now, there hasn’t been a blatant pitch to sell the works, only a ‘discrete’ valuation by Christie’s (at a cost of $200,000). The judge made it clear that in his opinion it wouldn’t be wise to sell the art, but that was just his philosophical view, not a ruling. In fact, the man in charge of the city’s bankruptcy proceedings, Kevin Orr, made it clear yesterday that the art collection is very much ‘on the table’. More info here

The good news is that the number of works the city could possibly sell (that is, those bought by the city directly, not gifts or DIA acquired objects) is only 5% of the museum’s total collection. Christie’s appraised only works bought with city of Detroit funds, all before 1955. The majority of the African art collection is thus save. (Christie’s press release)

In the meantime, the 150-page valuation of the works the city of Detroit can sell has been published. You can see the list here. Below the included African and Oceanic art.

African & Oceanic Art Phase 1

A KNIFE CASE, PROBABLY KONGO-PORTUGESE
ANGOLA/DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO, 16TH-18TH CENTURY
ivory
10 in. high
#25.183.A,B
Est. $700,000-1,200,000

A BENIN COMMEMORATIVE PORTRAIT OF A QUEEN MOTHER
NIGERIA, CIRCA 19TH CENTURY (LATE PERIOD)
copper alloy (bronze), cast
21 in. high
#26.180
Est. $150,000-400,000

African & Oceanic Art Phase 2

A BENIN FIGURE
NIGERIA
copper alloy
9 1/2 in. high
#26.10
Est. $30,000-50,000

A BENIN FIGURE
NIGERIA
copper alloy
9 1/4 in. high
#26.11
Est. $30,000-50,000

A SHIELD
MIDDLE SEPIK RIVER, PAPUA, NEW GUINEA
58 in. long
#26.369
Est. $40,000-60,000

A SAWOS CEREMONIAL BOARD (MALU)
MIDDLE SEPIK RIVER, PAPUA, NEW GUINEA
66 1/4 in. long
#26.370
Est. $300,000-500,000

Image courtesy of the Detroit Institute of Arts.

Image courtesy of the Detroit Institute of Arts.