Detroit May Have To Sell These 11 Masterpieces To Ease Its Debt Problem

>Detroit emergency manager Kevyn Orr is trying to come up with ways to plug the city’s estimated $US18.5 billion debt problem.

So this week, he announced he had engaged Christie’s to appraise the city’s art collection.

The move has generated controversy — both from those who say the collection should remain untouchable, and from camps who believe the city should never have owned the works in the first place.

Unusual among major cities, Detroit owns the entire collection at the Detroit Institute of Arts.

The Detroit Free Press reached out to art dealers in May to provide a rough estimate of the collection’s overall value. The group came up with a final tally of at least $US2.5 billion.

We wanted to dig into the collection to get a better sense of what the city could end up losing.

'Visitation' by Rembrandt (1640). Produced in Rembrandt's prime, this painting is actually quite small, which makes its detail even more stunning.

'Mary And Child With Angels' by Fra Angelico (~1425). Fra Angelico helped kick off the Renaissance with enigmatic depictions of classic religious subjects.

'Self-Portrait' by Vincent Van Gogh (1887). Van Gogh painted this self-portrait just a few years before he committed suicide -- and you can tell.

'Portrait Of A Woman' by Edgar Degas (1877). Degas was arguably the most versatile artist of his generation, impressive given that that generation also included Monet and Van Gogh.

'Nocturne In Black And Gold, The Falling Rocket' (1875) by James McNeill Whistler. Whistler is arguably America's most important 19th century painter, and this is a spectacular example of his work.

'The Resurrected Christ' by Botticelli (1480). Botticelli's intense compositions made him the most influential painter of the Renaissance era.

'Dona Amalia Bonells de Costa' by Goya (1805). Rare is the Goya work without an element of menace -- even this flattering portrait of local doctor's daughter.

'Richard Cassatt' by Mary Cassatt (1880). Cassatt was an American painter who lived much of her life in France.

'Hygeia' by Rubens. Rubens' Baroque renderings of flesh allowed him to stand out in an era (late Renaissance) and region (the Lowlands) produced works that, while exquisite, could be slightly homogeneous.

'Adam And Eve' by Albrecht Durer (1504). Durer is the greatest artistic engraver of all time.

'Detroit Industry' by Diego Rivera (1933). This is the most important in the entire museum, as Rivera painted it fresco-style on the building's walls, and thus won't be found anywhere else. Luckily that probably means it won't go anywhere, but all bets seem to be off in the city.

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