- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 4, 2009

NEW YORK

The Metropolitan Opera has put up two giant Marc Chagall murals in its lobby as collateral on an existing loan, the latest example of how the nation’s top fine arts institutions are struggling to cope with the economic downturn.

Met spokesman Peter Clark said Monday that the nation’s premier opera house was using the 30-by-36-foot paintings as collateral for “a long-standing loan.” He declined to specify the loan amount or the appraised value of the works, “The Triumph of Music” and “The Sources of Music.”

Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts commissioned the murals from the French painter for its lobby in the 1960s.

The paintings will remain in the lobby unless the Met defaults on the loan. Mr. Clark wasn’t sure whether the Met had used artworks as collateral before. The Met’s Chagall collateral was first reported by New York Magazine.

The Met is dropping some planned revivals from its 2009-10 season and substituting less costly productions. It also is slashing senior staff members’ salaries by 10 percent to stay within its $291 million annual budget. The opera house’s $300 million endowment has fallen with stock prices, along with donations, Met General Manager Peter Gelb said.

The faltering economy has led to a growing number of individuals and institutions using fine art as loan collateral in recent months.

Photographer Annie Leibovitz borrowed more than $15 million against rights to all her photographs and her New York town house, according to city records.


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