January 28, 2011
In case your $20 wager with the guy in the next cubicle didn't seem inadequate enough, two museums in Pittsburgh and Milwaukee are wagering pricey artworks based on the result of Super Bowl XLV.
As reported in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, if the Green Bay Packers win, the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh will send over Renoir's "Bathers With a Crab" to the Milwaukee Art Museum. If the Steelers win, Milwaukee will lend Carnegie one of its top works, Gustav Caillebotte's "Boating on the Yerres."
Though price estimates for the two works aren't readily available (at least to a blogger working from a coffee shop), judging by previous auction sale prices it's safe to assume the two pieces are insured for a total over $1 million. That could be a low estimate. A Renoir impressionist work has sold for as much as $80 million in the past.
The dates for the loan still haven't been decided. A similar bet last year between museums in Indianapolis and New Orleans resulted in a J.M.W. Turner landscape hanging in the New Orleans Museum of Art for three months.
The museum directors in Pittsburgh and Milwaukee are talking about their wager with the bravado you'd expect from someone who works in an art museum.
"In Pittsburgh, we believe trash talk is bad form," Carnegie Museum's Lynn Zelevansky, who has evidently never watched James Harrison(notes) play football, said in a statement. "We let the excellence of our football team, and our collection, speak for itself."
Milwaukee's museum director countered with Belichickian confidence.
"I'm confident that we will be enjoying the Renoir from Carnegie Museum of Art very soon," Daneil Keegan said in a statement. "I look forward to displaying it where the public can enjoy it and be reminded of the superiority of the Green Bay Packers."
Yes, because nothing says "the Green Bay Packers" like an impressionist work of three guys in canoes painted by a Frenchman who died a few days after the end of World War I.
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