It turns out the art market can’t help the Delaware Art Museum get out of the hole it created when it decided to pursue an over-ambitious expansion that left the museum $30m in debt. The leadership tried a quick and dramatic turnaround by by selling a William Holman Hunt painting and a big Calder sculpture. No one knows how much the Calder brought in but the Holman Hunt sale was a massive disappointment. So too, it would seem, is the Winslow Homer on offer:
As for the third work selected for sale – Winslow Homer’s “Milking Time” (1875) – the museum is holding off for now after rejecting several low bids, Copeland said.
“Basically, there’s no interest in Homers,” he added.
After the debt is paid this month, the investment fund – an arts organization’s lifeline – will stand at $15 million to $18 million, Miller said. That’s about half what the museum needs for long-term stability, he has said previously.
The fund fluctuates depending on market conditions. Earlier this year, officials estimated it was worth $25 million.
“I view it as a loan from the endowment that we will repay as soon as possible,” said Miller, who would not confirm the amount borrowed from the fund, but said Copeland’s figure was “not correct.”
On Wednesday, Miller said selling a fourth piece to help replenish the investment fund was a “strong possibility.” No works acquired through gift or bequest will be sold.
The museum was under the gun because it had to meet a bank deadline of Oct. 3 or risk closing its doors, officials said. The trustees voted in March to sell up to four works of art to raise $30 million to repay the debt and replenish the investment fund.
Delaware Art Museum uses reserve fund to fully repay mortgage (Delaware Online)