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Delaware Art Museum Auctions Off Masterpiece for Fraction of Anticipated Cost

Delaware Art Museum Auctions Off Masterpiece for Fraction of Anticipated Cost

The Delaware Art Museum is under fire for auctioning William Holman Hunt's Isabella and the Pot of Basil for a fraction of what was hoped. The sale at Christie's brought in a mere $4.9 million when it was valued to sell for $8.4 million to $13.4 million. The museum's strategy was as follows:

The lower-than-expected final sale price could mean the museum will be forced to sell as many as four works to reach its $30 million goal. Initially, museum officials said they hoped three works would bring in sufficient funds. The museum had hoped to sell the Hunt painting privately, but did not receive a high enough offer for it.

The other works slated to be sold have not been announced. But Winslow Homer's "Milking Time" and Alexander Calder's "Black Crescent" mobile have both disappeared from the Wilmington museum's galleries and database.

AAMD President Susan Taylor said:

"With this sale, the museum is treating its works from its collection as disposable assets, rather than irreplaceable cultural heritage that it holds in trust for people now and in the future," the AAMD, representing 242 members in North America, said in a statement. "It is also sending a clear signal to its audiences that private support is unnecessary, since it can always sell additional items from its collection to cover its costs."


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