Appraiser reduces estimate of Lucas collection's worth

April 14, 1991|By John Dorsey | John Dorsey,Sun Art Critic

An appraisal of the Lucas collection of art -- which th Maryland Institute College of Art, is considering whether to sell -- has been completed by art dealer and appraiser William J. Tomlinson, who said a previous estimate of its worth as $15 million to $20 million is "much too high."

The institute has been considering the sale of the 20,000-piece collection, either whole or in part, for at least two years. Virtually all of the works have been on loan to the Baltimore Museum of Art for almost 60 years, with a few pieces at the Walters Art Gallery. Completion of the appraisal brings the institute a step closer to a decision.

Institute President Fred Lazarus declined to comment yesterday the status of the appraisal.

Although Mr. Tomlinson would not reveal the collection's appraised worth, he said the $15 million to $20 million figure is "much too high" and "makes a bigger issue out of the whole matter than it should be. That's why I would tell you that." (He said he had appraised all of the works except for 50 Oriental porcelains. Of those, he said his impression is that they are "not particularly distinguished.")

BMA director Arnold L. Lehman and Walters director Robert P. Bergman said yesterday that they had asked for and had been granted till year's end to reply to the Klitzke report, commissioned by the institute to assess the extent, condition and uses of the collection. The report was released in January. Mr. Lazarus declined to confirm the request or time frame, which would presumably mean that the institute's board will take no action on the collection's fate until after the reply has been made.

The collection contains more than 20,000 prints, 300 paintings, about 150 drawings and watercolors, 140 bronzes, 71 artists' palettes and the porcelains.

The Klitzke report does not recommend a course of action on the collection; it states, in part that "the absence of the Lucas collection would diminish the available riches and the multiplicity of opportunities for . . . enjoyment; but the same or very similar opportunities are provided by the collection of the Walters Art Gallery, except in the category of prints. ."

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