Taubman artwork loaned to DIA among pieces up for auction

AP News
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Posted: Sep 05, 2015 10:51 AM

DETROIT (AP) — Works loaned to the Detroit Institute of Arts by developer A. Alfred Taubman will be among pieces in his collection to be auctioned off in the coming months.

Seven Baroque paintings, including five displayed in the first European Old Masters gallery in the A. Alfred Taubman Wing, are among the artwork that will be removed from the museum, The Detroit News and Detroit Free Press reported Saturday.

Taubman, who developed shopping malls, died in April. He had a long history of donating to philanthropic causes and was a Detroit Institute of Arts board member and former chair of Sotheby's auction house.

Sotheby's said a few days ago that it plans to sell Taubman's collection in a series of auctions in November and one in January. It said the collection was valued at more than $500 million.

Proceeds from the sale will be used to settle his estate's tax obligations and fund a foundation, the auction house said.

"If they're on loan to the museum, they will be removed for sale," family spokesman Christopher Tennyson told The Detroit News about the Taubman pieces in the DIA.

About 500 or so pieces in the Taubman collection will be exhibited by Sotheby's, Tennyson said.

Among the highlights are a piece from Pablo Picasso of a woman sitting in a chair, estimated at between $25 million and $35 million; a William de Kooning painting also estimated to go for $25 million to $35 million, and two Mark Rothko works, both with pre-sale estimates of between $20 million and $30 million.

The pieces loaned to the DIA are not expected to fetch such high prices at auction, according to the Detroit Free Press.

"It's a great loss that Taubman didn't leave some of his collection to the museum — at least, the pictures he loaned the DIA," said R. Ward Bissell, an expert on the Italian Baroque and professor emeritus at the University of Michigan.

"It's certainly unfortunate and unexpected."

The DIA was the focus of debate last year over whether city-owned art should be sold to ease the blow of Detroit's historic bankruptcy. An $800 million promise from foundations, major corporations and the state, called the "Grand Bargain," helped protect the collection.

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Information from: The Detroit News, http://detnews.com/