Brooklyn Museum Sells Prized Works at Auction Given Financial Toll of COVID-19

Given the financial toll on art spaces due to the coronavirus pandemic, major institutions like the Brooklyn Museum are turning to auction houses to sell coveted works from their permanent collection to raise money to protect its collections. The museum announced in September that it would begin to deaccession several works to create a “direct care of the collection” fund, which will be used to “enhance the life, usefulness, or quality of the collection, thereby ensuring that it will continue to benefit the public for years to come,” according to the museum’s website. The museum is seeking to raise $40 million USD for this fund. 

The Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD) gave museums the go ahead to deaccession works to protect their collections back in April. Before, the AAMD could censure or sanction museums that sold pieces from their collection if profits were used for operations or capital expenses and not for the acquisition of works, according to a policy statement by the organization.

Christie’s recently sold several works for the Brooklyn Museum in an Old Masters auction in New York and in two European art sales. Additional works are slated to hit Christie’s upcoming online sales. Of the ten works offered this week, a total of nine sold, garnering the Brooklyn Museum $6.6 million USD in profits. One of the highlights is the painting, Lucretia by Lucas Cranach the Elder, which sold for $4.2 million USD.

The Brooklyn Museum is now gearing up to sell a coveted selection of works by Claude Monet, Jean Dubuffet, Edgar Degas, Joan Miró, and Henri Matisse as part of Sotheby’s evening auctions of contemporary and impressionist and modern art set for October 28 in New York. Highlights in the sale are two paintings by Dubuffet, Le Messager 1961 and Rue Tournique Bourlique 1963, each toting a pre-sale estimate between $2.5 million USD and $3.5 million USD.

Elsewhere in art, Simone Leigh will be the first Black woman to represent the United States at the Venice Biennale in 2022.
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