Bankrupt Detroit's art collection to auction?

The US city of Detroit may be forced to auction off its world-famous art collection having declared bankruptcy earlier this month.

Detroit art collection auction
Bank of the Oise at Auvers by Vincent Van Gogh is housed in Detroit

Experts estimate the collection at approximately $2.5bn - a sizable chunk of the city's $18bn debt.

Including works by Dutch masters Vincent Van Gogh and Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn, as well as valuable post impressionist paintings by Paul Cezanne and Paul Gauguin, the collection may well become a bargaining tool during negations with creditors.

"We haven't proposed selling any asset. But we haven't taken any asset off the table. We can't. We cannot negotiate in good faith with our creditors by taking assets off the table," city spokesperson Bill Nowling told the New York Times.

The outstanding art collection is housed in the city's impressive Beaux-Arts museum - a rare cultural hot spot amid abandoned buildings and beleaguered streets.  

Among exceptional works by Pieter Brueghel the Elder and Diego Rivera, the first ever puppet used on popular children's television programme Howdy Doody can also be found.

Attempts to liquidate the collection could be met with considerable fury. In a city blighted by crime and unemployment, the Beaux-Arts museum is a beacon of excellence, which still draws wary residents downtown.

Earlier this month, Harrisburg, another debt-ridden US city, auctioned off swathes of Wild West memorabilia accrued by former city mayor Stephen Reed.

Here at Paul Fraser Collectibles, we have a number of art and photography treasures in stock.

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