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A rare 18th-century Lancaster County fraktur, which a man found in a suitcase in a dump more than 30 years ago, was appraised at $25,000 to $35,000 on the episode of the “Antiques Roadshow” historical-artifact program that aired Monday night on PBS.

The Pennsylvania German folk art document, attributed to the unknown maker known as the Sussel-Washington artist, was appraised during the episode shot in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

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Digging up forgotten treasure in grandma's dusty attic sounds like a tale too good to be true.

But for some, that dream has become a reality. The popular PBS television series "Antiques Roadshow" has earned some local antique owners a small fortune. From art to toys to clothes, people bring in all sorts of goodies to be professionally appraised by experts. Most leave in disappointment, but a lucky bunch have walked away with more than expected.

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As part of a deal with prosecutors, the man accused of smashing a vase by the Chinese artist Ai Weiwei in a museum here pleaded guilty Wednesday to criminal mischief but avoided any more jail time beyond the two days he spent behind bars after his arrest.

Maximo Caminero, a 51-year-old artist from the Dominican Republic, will be on probation for 18 months and serve 100 hours of community service by teaching children how to paint. Mr. Caminero also must pay restitution of $10,000, the appraised value of the vase he dropped on the floor of the Pérez Art Museum Miami on Feb. 16 in what he said was a political act.

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A new expert appraisal of the Detroit Institute of Arts’ collection, which some creditors are demanding be sold to help pay municipal debts in the city’s bankruptcy case, has found that the works could be worth $2.7 billion to $4.6 billion.

The appraisal, commissioned by the city and the museum in advance of a federal bankruptcy trial in August, also added that such a price tag would never be attained at sale, for reasons including donor lawsuits that would delay or prevent the sale of many valuable works, weakness in the market for some kinds of paintings, and lower sale prices because of the sheer bulk that would flood into the market at once. The appraiser, Artvest Partners, an art investment firm based in New York, said that because of these factors and the notoriety of such a forced sale from a venerable public institution, the bulk of the museum’s collection might raise as little as $850 million.

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General Motors, Ford and Chrysler are driving into Detroit’s bankruptcy reorganization by pledging $26 million to help support retiree pensions while keeping the city’s art treasures off the auction block, officials announced Monday.

The money will go toward city pensions and will be part of the Detroit Institute of Arts’ $100 million commitment to what’s being called the “grand bargain” to resolve the largest public bankruptcy in U.S. history. It’s helping keep city-owned pieces in the museum off the auction block as some creditors demand they be sold to pay off some of Detroit’s billions in debt.

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Creditors in Detroit’s municipal bankruptcy have engineered a new appraisal aimed at putting the Detroit Institute of Arts' entire collection in play as a possible chip to maximize the amount the city will be obligated to ante up for debt repayment.

The Detroit News reports that, at some creditors’ behest, the city’s bankruptcy managers have begun trying to place a value on the museum’s entire 66,000-piece collection. That’s quite an escalation from a previous appraisal of only about 1,700 works that the DIA had bought with city funds.

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Supporters of the Detroit Institute of Arts have offered to donate $330 million to help pay a portion of the city’s bankruptcy debt and save the museum’s finest works from being sold at auction. The donors would like the funds to go to retirees, whose pensions may be cut by as much as $3.5 billion. In exchange, the Detroit Institute’s collection would be protected in any bankruptcy settlement. A statement e-mailed to the U.S. District Court in Detroit said, “All recognize that if these two goals can be accomplished, a third absolutely critical goal of facilitating the revitalization of the city in the aftermath of the bankruptcy will be greatly advanced.”

Detroit filed for bankruptcy in July 2013 and the city is currently over $18 billion in debt. Following the filing, Kevyn Orr, Detroit’s emergency manager, asked Christie’s to appraise the 2,781 city-owned works housed in the Detroit Institute of Arts. The auction house estimated the works to be worth anywhere from $452 million to $886 million.

The Institute has opposed any sale, stating that its art is held in a charitable trust and cannot be part of any auction to help pay Detroit’s substantial debts.

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Tuesday, 07 January 2014 18:15

Picasso Plate Appraised on Antiques Roadshow

During a recent taping of the hit television series, ‘Antiques Roadshow,’ a woman brought a plate that she had acquired in 1970 for $100 to be appraised. For years, the work had hung in her kitchen alongside the rest of her plate collection accumulating layers of grease. The buyer had no idea that she had a modern masterpiece on her hands until five years ago when she visited a gallery and saw a similar plate by Pablo Picasso on display.

As it turns out, the plate was an authentic work created by Picasso in 1955 for France’s Madoura Studio. Stuart Slavid, an expert in European furniture, silver and fine ceramics at Skinner Inc. in Boston, estimated the plate to be worth between $10,000 and $15,000. Although the plate has a small but visible chip, it is still in remarkable condition.

Picasso is a commanding force in the art market and over the past four or five years the prices paid for his works have continued to skyrocket.

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Wednesday, 04 December 2013 18:00

Christie’s Appraises Detroit’s Art Collection

Christie’s announced that Detroit’s art collection, which is housed in the Detroit Institute of Arts, is worth between $452 million and $886 million. The auction house was hired by the city’s emergency manager, Kevyn Orr, to put a price tag on 2,781 works owned by the city after Detroit filed for bankruptcy earlier this year.

The city’s artworks represent about 5% of the Detroit Institute’s holdings, but 11 of the pieces on display at the museum account for 75% of the appraised collection’s total value. Christie’s plans to propose five alternatives to selling the works, which include masterpieces by Vincent van Gogh, Henri Matisse and Pieter Bruegel, that would still allow the city to make a profit off of the treasures.

The city of Detroit is currently over $18 billion in debt.


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After filing for bankruptcy last month, the city of Detroit has hired the international auction house Christie’s to appraise a portion of its city-owned art collection, which is housed in the Detroit Institute of Arts. City officials have not yet decided if they will sell any works in an attempt to quell creditors.

Rumors about the fate of the D.I.A.’s illustrious collection circulated quickly after representatives from Christie's visited the museum this past June. The auction house confirmed on Monday, August 5, 2013 that they have been hired to appraise the D.I.A.’s holding but did not specify which portion of the collection they would be evaluating. The auction house said in a statement, “Christie’s was asked to assist due to our expertise in this area across all fine art categories and eras. We understand that a valuation of all the City’s assets (extending well beyond the art) is one of many steps that will be necessary for the legal system to reach a conclusion about the best long term solution for the citizens of Detroit.”

The office of Detroit emergency manager Kevyn Orr will pay for the appraisal, which will cost $200,000 and is expected to wrap up in October. Christie’s will only appraise works of art that are city-owned and are not subject to donor restrictions that could prevent a possible sale.

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