The bankrupt city of Detroit has hired Christie's to appraise the Detroit Institute of Arts' renowned collection in a move that further poses the risk that works from the museum will be sold to alleviate the city's $18 billion debt load.
On Monday, city officials said that the international auction house Christie's will be paid $200,000 to appraise the museum's holdings. Officials from Christie's had visited the museum in June.
While the DIA is cooperating with the appraisal, the museum has retained an attorney since Detroit filed for bankruptcy on July 18. Museum officials and supporters have been emphasizing that their collection is in the "public trust" and not subject to a "fire-sale" to satisfy city creditors.
An appraisal of such scope will take a long time. One of the country's top museums, the DIA is housed in a 658,000 square foot building with 100 galleries holding such masterpieces as Rodin's Thinker and a seminal Van Gogh self-portrait, among a broad range of other objects.
In a statement, Christie's said, "We understand that a valuation of all the City's assets (extending well beyond the art) is one of many steps that will be necessary for the legal system to reach a conclusion about the best long term solution for the citizens of Detroit."