In Brief

New Report Values Detroit Institute of Arts Collection at $4.6 Billion

by Mostafa Heddaya on July 9, 2014

One of Diego Rivera's "Detroit Industry Murals" at the Detroit Institute of Arts (1932–33) (photo by Flickr user cdshock)

One of Diego Rivera’s “Detroit Industry Murals” at the Detroit Institute of Arts (1932–33) (photo by cdshock/Flickr)

A new valuation of the 66,000-item collection of the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) has found it to be worth between $2.8 and $4.6 billion, the Detroit Free Press reported. However, the assessment, carried out by New York–based Artvest Partners at the behest of the City of Detroit, cautions that a forced sale of the collection would only realize a fraction of its value, netting an estimated low of $1.1 billion. The report further warns against the financial alternatives recommended in the previous valuation, carried out by Christie’s auction house last year, which suggested the collection could be used as debt collateral, among other possibilities. The Christie’s report appraised the city-owned portion of the collection, comprising 2,773 artworks, at $454–867 million.

A spokesman for Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr told the Free Press that the conclusions of the Artvest report question the practicality of recent creditor demands to reconsider the value of the collection, with an eye to liquidation. “It’s one thing to say in the abstract that the art is worth billions, but it’s another thing if you look at the factors if you actually tried to sell it,” the spokesman said.

According to the Free Press, which was provided with a copy of the not-yet-public report, Artvest — a “financially-focused art advisory firm” — was paid $112,500 for the assessment, and its staff will be remunerated as expert witnesses at trial or depositions at $6,000 per day, with the expense split between DIA and the city.

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  • Dominic Quintana

    This is absolutely sickening. As if it weren’t bad enough that the hyper-commodification of artwork is infecting every aspect of the visual arts. The reckless wheeling and dealing of the financial industry is what caused a majority of Detroit’s problems to begin with. Ironically, these would be the same people who would vacuum up these works should they be sold- only to be spirited away to some remote enclave or apartment never to be seen again.
    This artwork collection is in the public trust, and is a cultural public asset and public treasure. It is not another resource to be strip mined.

  • Andres Manniste

    Of course, but art collections are not for sale except in the eyes of really troubled money managers who, when they pass away are…passed away

  • PhyllisO

    Who wants to start an artist collective in Detroit?

  • flamestar

    The country is being looted by quick buck artists and chiselers, Sensible regulations that prevent theft are removed in the name of free enterprise. Then businesses and cities and governments are cleaned out and the public is forced to pay,

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