Met Opera offers Chagall murals as loan collateral

The venerable Metropolitan Opera is not immune from the economic troubles affecting all industries, revealing on Monday that it has put up two massive Marc Chagall murals as collateral on a loan.

The venerable Metropolitan Opera is not immune from the economic troubles affecting all industries, revealing on Monday that it has put up two massive Marc Chagall murals as collateral on a loan.

The Lincoln Centre for the Performing Arts commissioned the French painter to create the two murals — entitled The Triumph of Music and The Sources of Music — for the Met Opera lobby in the 1960s. Each mural measures approximately nine by 11 metres.

According to Met spokesman Peter Clark, the murals will serve as collateral for "a longstanding loan," though he declined to specify the loan amount or the estimated value of the works. Some reports have appraised the two murals at about $20 million US in total.

The paintings will remain on display unless the famed New York opera house defaults on the loan.

In earlier announcements, Met officials outlined a number of cost-cutting manoeuvres it is undertaking, including ditching some planned revivals for the upcoming 2009-2010 season in favour of less expensive shows as well as cutting the salaries of senior staff members by 10 per cent.

Met General Manager Peter Gelb has said that the value of the company's endowment fund has diminished significantly as the economy has worsened, and that both ticket sales and the number of donations have fallen. 

With files from the Associated Press