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.