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Christie's auction house has released the value of about 2,800 paintings, sculptures, pottery and other city-owned artwork that they appraised. The list of the items along with their value were released on Thursday by the city including a Van Gogh.
Pieter Bruegel I’s "The Wedding Dance" was valued at $100 million to $200 million. Van Gogh's "Self Portrait with Straw Hat" received a value of between $80 million and $150 million.
Kevyn Orr, the state-appointed emergency manager, hired Christie's to appraise the works. City-owned art is considered an asset and could be vulnerable during bankruptcy. Orr filed for bankruptcy in July and it was approved by Judge Steve Rhodes earlier this month. Detroit’s largest creditors have said in court that the museum is not an essential asset and works should be sold to pay the city’s debts, according to the New York Times.
Charles Guerin, director of the Hyde Collection in New York, is not surprised by the high value of the Detroit pieces.
"The art market has become a place to invest large sums of money," Guerin said, according to the Associated Press. "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."
The city-owned art works collectively are worth between $454 million to $867 million, according to Christie’s. They make up only five percent of the museum's 66,000 total work collection.
Detroit’s debt is at least $18 billion, including $5.7 billion in unfunded health care obligations and $3.5 billion in unfunded pension liabilities. Orr is expected in court in January to present his plan for fiscal restructuring.