The Met to sell $1.4m worth of art to make up for New York museum's pandemic losses

Works by Picasso, Lichtenstein and Stella will be sold to help stem the potential shortfall of $150m faced by the institution

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, famously known as The Met, will sell more than 200 prints and photographs from its collection to help make up for revenue losses caused by the pandemic.

The economic fallout for the prestigious museum in the US is reported to be $150 million, caused by its five-month closure in 2020 as Covid-19 hit New York.

A total of 219 works will go on auction at Christie’s this month, including pieces by Pablo Picasso, Roy Lichtenstein and Frank Stella. Sales are expected to reach between $904,600 and $1.4m collectively, according to Artnet.

On September 24, 168 photos from the museum’s Civil War photography collection will go on sale online until October 7. These images from the 1860s are among the museum’s most celebrated collections.

On October 6, a total of 16 photographs – seven of which are from The Americans book by famed Swiss documentary photographer Robert Frank – will be sold at a live auction. Frank’s black-and-white photo “US 90, En Route to Del Rio, Texas, 1955”, which shows a woman and a young child in a black car, is estimated to sell for $250,000, the top lot among the auctions.

The remaining works, made up of prints and multiples, will be sold online from Thursday, November 4 to Thursday, November 18.

The Met’s deaccessioning comes during a temporary time frame when US museums have fewer restrictions on how they can use funds. In April 2020, the Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD) passed a series of resolutions that lifted restrictions on how institutions could use proceeds from sales of works, stating that museums could deaccession artworks “to pay for expenses associated with the direct care of collections.”

Foreseeing the economic impact of the pandemic, the guidelines were passed “in recognition of the extensive negative effects of the current crisis on the operations and balance sheets of many art museums,” the AAMD wrote in a statement in 2020.

Previously, museums were only permitted to use funds from deaccessioning for future acquisitions. The new resolutions are set to be in place until April 2022.

Other museums have already made use of the new guidelines, including the Brooklyn Museum, which sold 12 pieces from its collection and raised $31 million in auction last year.

Updated: September 18th 2021, 10:00 AM