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Speculation: Is Delaware’s Calder Next?

calder.black.crescentI hate to play the speculation game, but that’s what happens sometimes when museums try to hide their activities. So I report what the Wilmington News Journal is saying about the next work of art being deacessioned by the Delaware Art Museum:

Alexander Calder’s prominent “Black Crescent” mobile has been removed from the Delaware Art Museum’s East Court and its collections database, making it potentially the third work the museum will sell by October.

The museum’s CEO, Mike Miller, would neither confirm nor deny whether or not the mobile will be sold to raise money for operations. Christie’s is selling the first candidate, William Holman Hunt’s Isabella and the Pot of Basil, on June 17, with an estimate of $8.4 to $13.4 million. Winslow Homer’s Milking Time has also disappeared from the museum’s walls and database and may be for sale.

If Isabella fetches a high number, the museum may get away with selling fewer than four works to raise its target, $30 million.  I don’t think the Calder will do it, though, despite that big, $26 million sale last month of Flying Fish.

According to the News Journal (which, btw, is doing a good job tracking this story), “Museum officials have declined to release the names of the other works, explaining that it could hurt the market for private sales. They have promised not to sell any works acquired through gift or bequest.”

Trouble is, I’m not convinced that putting out the word hurts private sales. The name of the buyer could still remain private.

Of course, I’m not convinced the museum has tried everything it could to avert this sale.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of the News Journal

 

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