If this sale had been scheduled before the pandemic began, it likely would have divided the art world. The Brooklyn Museum will auction a dozen works from its collection on October 15 at Christie’s, the New York Times reveals. The reason? The New York museum hopes to obtain 40 million dollars to finance the maintenance of the collections. 

a large building with Brooklyn Museum in the background: Affected by the pandemic the Brooklyn museum will auction off a part of its art collection at Christie's.

© Matthew Roberge / IStock.com
Affected by the pandemic the Brooklyn museum will auction off a part of its art collection at Christie’s.

The Brooklyn Museum is the first major US museum to use this drastic solution to supplement its operating budget and cash flow, following long months of closure due to the pandemic.

This sale at Christie’s was made possible by an easing of the rules of the Association of Art Museum Directors, which allowed North American museums to dispose of some of their works on the sole condition that the funds raised be used to diversify their art collections. 

This was notably the case for the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, which had offered a Mark Rothko painting for auction in May 2019 in order to purchase others by women and minority artists. 

The Association of Art Museum Directors changed this rule in April so as not to further penalize North American cultural institutions, which have already been greatly weakened by the health crisis. 

The Brooklyn Museum will take advantage of this new legislation to auction off 12 works by Camille Corot, Donato de’ Bardi, Charles-François Daubigny and Francesco Botticini. According to the New York Times, the portrait “Lucretia” by Lucas Cranach the Elder could fetch $1.8 million at Christie’s “Old Masters” sale. 

“We have a deep collection of high-quality art, but we have works that-like many museums of our size-have not been shown ever or for decades,” Anne Pasternak, the Brooklyn Museum’s director, told The New York Times. 

“This is something that is hard for us to do. But it’s the best thing for the institution and the longevity and care of the collections.”

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