Report: DIA collection worth as much as $4.6 billion

Jul 9, 2014

A New York art investment firm says, on paper, works at the Detroit Institute of Arts could be worth as much as $4.6 billion. But the report by ArtVest Partners says the artwork could go for a lot less, if it's liquidated as part of the city's bankruptcy.

The Wedding Dance, by Peter Bruegel the Elder, is one of the most valuable works at the DIA.
The Wedding Dance, by Peter Bruegel the Elder, is one of the most valuable works at the DIA.
Credit Detroit Institute of Arts

An earlier appraisal of the DIA's collections by Christie's auction house looked only at works bought with city money, and said selling those would bring in no more than $866 million.

The ArtVest report says the market value of the museum's entire collection is worth between $2.8 billion and $4.6 billion dollars. But it says it could go for as little as $850 million if there was prolonged litigation.

"The report makes it abundantly clear that selling art to settle debt will not generate the kind of revenue the city's creditors claim it will," Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr's spokesman, Bill Nowling, said in a statement.  "That's why the city supports the 'grand bargain' which was negotiated between retirees, the state, the DIA and the philanthropic community. That proposal provides more than $815 million to shore up the public employee pensions while making sure the city's cultural treasures at the DIA will remain there."