DETROIT – The fair market values of some of the most popular pieces in the Detroit Institute of Arts — including Bruegel the Elder’s “The Wedding Dance” and a Van Gogh self-portrait — have been released.
Christie’s auction house appraised about 2,800 paintings, sculptures, pottery and other city-owned artwork at the city’s request. The list of the items and how much each would fetch at sale were released Thursday by the city.
“The Wedding Dance” is valued at $100 million to $200 million, while Van Gogh’s “Self Portrait with Straw Hat” was given a price tag of between $80 million and $150 million.
State-appointed emergency manager Kevyn Orr hired Christie’s to do the work. Orr has said city-owned art in the museum can be considered an asset and could be vulnerable during a bankruptcy. He filed for bankruptcy in July, and federal Judge Steven Rhodes approved the petition Dec. 3.
The high values of some of Detroit’s pieces are not surprising, said Charles Guerin, director of the Hyde Collection in Glen Falls, New York.
“The art market has become a place to invest large sums of money,” Guerin said. “Art is a commodity, especially when you get into those numbers. It’s amazing somebody would even have $150 million to spend. There are a lot of wealthy people in the world who can look at $150 million as if it’s chump change.”
According to the appraisal by New York-based Christie’s, the city-owned pieces at the Detroit Institute of Arts are collectively worth between $454 million to $867 million. They represent about five per cent of the museum’s estimated 66,000-work collection.
Orr has said the city’s debt is at least $18 billion. That includes $5.7 billion in unfunded health care obligations and $3.5 billion in unfunded pension liabilities. He is expected to present a plan of adjustment for fiscal restructuring to the bankruptcy court in early January that will include his recommendations for the art.
Guerin cautioned against selling any of the art, saying it would be “short-sighted.”
“Detroit is a great city. One of the things that make it a great city is that it has an absolutely great museum,” he said.
Here are some of the highlights of the appraisal:
— “The Wedding Dance,” Pieter Bruegel I, $100 million-$200 million.
— “Self Portrait with Straw Hat,” Vincent Van Gogh, $80 million-$150 million.
— “The Visitation,” Rembrandt Harmensz. Van Rijn, $50 million-$90 million.
— “Le guéridon,” Henri Matisse, $40 million-$80 million.
— “Gladioli,” Claude Monet, $12 million-$20 million.
— “The Palla Altarpiece: Tobias and Three Archangels,” Neri Di Bicci, $8 million-$15 million.
— “Portrait of Hendrik Swalmius,” Frans Hals, $6 million-$10 million.
— “Madonna and Child,” Giovanni Bellini and Workshop, $4 million-$10 million.
— “Saint Jerome in His Study,” Workshop of Jan Van Eyck, $4 million-$8 million.
— “A dead hare with flowers and onions on a ledge,” Jean-Simeon Chardin, $5 million-$7 million.