The first piece of art sold from the Delaware Art Museum's collection came in at a lower sale price than originally expected.
On Tuesday morning, the museum's controversial sale of several paintings began with the auction of a work by William Holman Hunt. While Christie's auction house in London projected that "Isabella and the Pot of Basil" would fetch between $8 million and $13 million, the actual sale price came in well below that figure at £2,882,500, or approximately $4.8 million.
In late March, the Delaware Art Museum announced it would sell up to four works of art as part of an effort to raise $30 million. The bulk of the money would pay down the balance of the museum's $19.8 million expansion/construction debt and increase its endowment to about $35 million.
Museum leaders have yet to name the next piece of art to be sold, although there are indications that Winslow Homer's "Milking Time" will be sold privately.
The decision to sell art from the musuem's collection has drawn criticism from art leaders in the region. The critics include Philadelphia Museum of Art CEO Timothy Rub, who also serves as the president of the Association of Art Museum Directors. Rub said that he believes that monetizing art violates a fundamental principle within the art community to protect collections at all costs.