Union League of Chicago Approves Sale of Prized Monet Painting – ARTnews.com

The Chicago Union League Club, home to one of the most important private art collections in the American Midwest, is reportedly planning to liquidate part of its collection, including a coveted Monet painting, to help ease the economic pressures caused by the pandemic reduce.

The historic private Social Club, a 501 (c) (7) tax-exempt organization, has already taken steps to deal with the financial consequences of the pandemic. The organization has cut roughly 75 percent of its full-time employees from 275 to 67 employees, made 10 to 20 percent cuts in executive salaries, and raised $ 520,000 in membership donations.

Politico first reported on the possible sale. According to the report, Union League president Nancy A. Ross confirmed the board’s approval for the sale of the Monet. In an email to club members, she wrote, “The key to the board’s decision is the inherent uncertainty about how long the pandemic will have a negative impact on club operations and the Chicago economy.”

On the subject of matching items

The Monet, currently on loan at the Art Institute’s “Monet in Chicago” exhibition, was first shown in the museum in 1895. At the time, its authenticity was measured at $ 1,500. Club member Judge John Barton Payne acquired the work and later sold it to the Union League for $ 500. It was valued at $ 20,000 in the late 1950s and was valued at $ 900,000 in 1985. Today the market value is estimated at 5 to 15 million US dollars.

Sally Metzler, the club’s art director, was on a task force that oversaw the deactivation, according to the Chicago Tribune. Ross said in the letter to club members that a selection of works could potentially be offered for sale in addition to the Monet, including works by George Inness, Victor Higgins, William Wendt and Chicago imagist Jim Nutt. The club’s general manager, Mark Tunney, told ARTnews in an interview that plans to sell the Monet and other works are still ongoing.

Tunney confirmed that two tranches of works were selected by the task force. The first group consists of five or six works, one of which was pulled out at the last minute. The art task force, which includes Metzler and current and former board members, “helped pinpoint the right time for the right piece without compromising the integrity of the art collection,” said Tunney.

Tunney confirmed that some of the works have already been put up for sale by auction houses. A Jim Nutt painting called Look This Way (1977) from the club’s inventory, purchased by the Union League Club’s Art Committee in 2005, has already been sold. A $ 225,000 premium was paid during Christie’s daytime contemporary art sale on December 3.

Dr. Metzler serves as a point of contact for art with auction houses when selecting for sale. It will be their job to “find the best opportunity at the best prices available,” said Tunney.

“We have a very active membership and a very active arts community in the club,” said Tunney, adding, “This is not an easy decision.” The hope is that the first cache of works will generate enough revenue for the Monet to stay in the hands of the Union League.

The Monet landscape is considered the jewel in the Union League Club’s collection, which includes more than 700 works by Donald Judd, Andy Warhol, Jasper Johns, Kerry James Marshall and Angel Otero, as well as Chicago artists Ed Paschke and William Conger and Dawoud Bey. The collection was historically open to the public.

The inclusion of the work in the Monet storefront at the Art Institute of Chicago could add value to the work if it is auctioned.

The sale wouldn’t be the first time the Union Club has turned off art in recent years. In 2015, the club at Christie’s sold a landscape by Félix Ziem for $ 62,500 to support its acquisition fund.

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