The Detroit Institute of Arts’ 12 Most Valuable Works

Portrait of Postman Roulin, Vincent Willem van Gogh, 1888, oil on canvas. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Walter Buhl Ford II. Photo: Courtesy Detroit Institute of Arts
Portrait of Postman Roulin, Vincent Willem van Gogh, 1888, oil on canvas. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Walter Buhl Ford II. Photo: Courtesy Detroit Institute of Arts

New York art advisory firm Artvest Partners came up with a maximum value of $4.6 billion as the cumulative value of the Detroit Institute of Art’s (DIA) stellar collection (see artnet News report). The appraisal focused on 57,604 works and does not include the 2,800 pieces bought with city funds that were appraised last year by Christie’s. Because the works evaluated by Artvest were either donated to the museum or bought with a combination of private and restricted funds, they have more legal protection against sale as compared with the city-bought pieces that Christie’s appraised.

Between the two evaluations, the two most valuable works were included in the Christie’s report: Bruegel the Elder‘s The Wedding Dance, said to be worth as much as $200 million, and Vincent van Gogh‘s 1887 self portrait, said to be worth as much as $150 million.

A report in the Detroit Free Press by Mark Stryker, who has closely followed all the proceedings of Detroit’s municipal bankruptcy filing and the possible consequences for DIA’s collection, lists the 12 most valuable works in the collection. The museum’s famous Diego Rivera murals are not included because they are impossible to remove from the walls of the institution’s Rivera Court.

The most valuable works in the DIA collection include: Van Gogh’s Portrait of Postman Roulin (1888) (estimate: $80–120 million); Picasso‘s Melancholy Woman (1902) (estimate: $$60–80 million); Picasso’s Woman Seated in an Armchair (1923) ($40–60 million); Frederic Church‘s Cotopaxi (1862) (estimate: $40–60 million); and van Gogh’s Bank of the Oise at Auvers (1890) (estimate: $40–50 million). The complete list, and a slideshow of the works is here.


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