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Christie's Auction House Will Assist DIA In Appraisal Of Art

DETROIT (WWJ/AP) - Christie's Appraisals says it has agreed to appraise some city-owned pieces in the Detroit Institute of Arts.

The New York-based auction house said in a release Monday that it was asked to do the appraisals and will "assist and advise on how to realize value for the city while leaving the art in the city's ownership."

Christie's said the appraisal "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."

The museum said in a statement that it will cooperate in the process.

"However, we continue to believe there is no reason to value the collection as the Attorney General has made clear that the art is held in charitable trust and cannot be sold as part of a bankruptcy proceeding. We applaud the EM's focus on rebuilding the City, but would point out that he undercuts that core goal by jeopardizing Detroit's most important cultural institution," the statement read.

"In addition, recent moves in Oakland and Macomb counties to invalidate the tri-county millage if art is sold virtually ensure that any forced sale of art would precipitate the rapid demise of the DIA. Removing $23 million in annual operating funds – nearly 75% of the museum's operating budget – and violating the trust of donors and supporters would cripple the museum, putting an additional financial burden on our already struggling city," the statement continued.

Talking to WWJ's Charlie Langton, DIA Director Graham Beal said this could ultimately spell the end of museum operations.

"They [the counties] would regard this as a breach of faith, and the millage would immediately be suspended," said Beal. "And that would precipitate — as we were talking about a year ago, before the vote —that would drive the DIA into a controlled shut down."

State-appointed emergency manager Kevyn Orr has said artwork in the museum could be at risk as he pushes Detroit into the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history. A federal judge is considering his July 18th filing.

Estimates of the DIA's collection come in around $4 billion.

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