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September 25, 2014

Art Sales Help Delaware Museum Clear Nearly $20-Million Debt

Delaware Art Museum officials said Wednesday that the institution will retire its remaining $19.8-million in mortgage debt by the end of this month, despite disappointing results from a controversial sale of prized works, The News-Journal of Wilmington reports. The museum will supplement proceeds from two such sales with at least $5-million from its endowment to clear the leftover liability from a $32.5-million expansion in 2001, board Chairman Gerret Copeland said.

A work by 19th-century English artist William Holman Hunt fetched a less-than-expected $4.25-million at auction, far less than expected, and the museum put off the sale of a Winslow Homer painting after rejecting several low bids. The private sale of an Alexander Calder mobile brought in an estimated $10.6-million, according to the newspaper.

Officials said the Wilmington institution museum was at risk of shutting down if it did not meet an October 3 bank deadline to pay down its debt. Museum CEO Mike Miller said it might sell another work to replenish its investment fund. The museum was sanctioned by two accrediting bodies for selling art to cover operating costs.