Works at Detroit Institute worth between $454 and $867 million

Works at Detroit Institute worth between $454 and $867 million

DETROIT - The Associated Press
Works at Detroit Institute worth between $454 and $867 million

A painting by Picasso is seen at the Detroit Institute of Arts in Michigan.

The nearly 2,800 city-owned artworks at the Detroit Institute of Arts are worth $454 million to $867 million, with one masterpiece by Van Gogh worth up to $150 million, Christie’s auction house says in a report released last week.

The New York-based auction house spent months determining the collection’s fair market value after Detroit filed for bankruptcy last summer. Its findings were submitted in the long-awaited report to Detroit’s state-appointed emergency manager, Kevin Orr.

The Detroit Institute of Arts is considered one of the top art museums in the country. The auction house valued one work, Van Gogh’s “Self Portrait with Straw Hat,” at $80 million to $150 million. Other famous artists’ work appraised by Christie’s included the oil painting “Le gueridon” by Henri Matisse at $40 million to $80 million, Claude Monet’s “Gladioli” at $12 million to $20 million, and Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s “Graziella” at $1.8 million to $3 million.

Orr, who was appointed by Republican Gov. Rick Snyder in March, 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.

Detroit’s debt is at least $18 billion, which includes $5.7 billion in unfunded retiree health care obligations and $3.5 billion in unfunded pension liabilities, according to Orr.

Huge cuts 

Retirees and pensioners worry that they will be forced to take huge cuts in benefits and pensions during the city’s financial restructuring.

Detroit-area philanthropist A. Paul Schaap and his wife, Carol, have pledged $5 million to help offset expected losses by city pensioners in Orr’s restructuring plan and help prevent the sale of the artwork.