Strapped for Cash and Sinking, Venice Eyes Selling Some of Its City-Owned Art

Klimt, Judith II
Klimt, Judith II

You thought Detroit’s situation was so historically unique that we would never witness another battle over whether to sell art to solve a municipal crisis. But we’re back there again.

This time the setting is Venice. The problems are quite different as Rome diverts cash from the maintenance of the city to building a flood barrier and previous sources of gambling revenue have dwindled.

It turns out the city owns museums that have works by Gustav Klimt and Marc Chagall, as the Wall Street Journal explains. Those works may be worth €60m:

So the mayor has hatched a series of other plans, some of them controversial, to square the budget. The most contentious is Mr. Brugnaro’s idea to sell of some of the art treasures in its museums’ collections—such as the Klimt painting Judith II—that he says “don’t belong to the city’s history and tradition.”

Art lovers and politicians in Rome have expressed outrage, but Mr. Brugnaro says he isn’t cowed. “I’ll sell the paintings rather than sit here and admire them while rain drips onto children’s school desks and public libraries have no toilet paper.”

As Venice’s Debts Mount, Mayor Pitches Sale of Art, Other Moves to Keep Finances Afloat (WSJ)