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Pricey blue-light specials

Kmart sells off its art collection, worth millions of dollars.

Published June 21, 2006

TROY, Mich. - Attention Kmart shoppers: today's specials are on garden hoses, children's T-shirts, and don't miss the specials on Ming Dynasty art and a Picasso.

Kmart, better known for discounts on items such as casual clothes and housewares, is selling off high-end art from its former corporate headquarters, including a rare Picasso tapestry and a 15th-century Chinese Ming Dynasty watercolor.

They are among works being sold from the corporate art collection at the former headquarters in Troy. The gallery includes more than 1,000 oils, photos, posters, tapestries and sculptures.

Also for sale are historic collectibles from its Science and Technology room including a work by Alan Bean autographed by more than 20 U.S. astronauts.

The artwork mostly was gathered in the 1970s and early 1980s when the company first was settling into the building, said Michael Weissman, art curator for the collection from National Retail Equipment Liquidators Inc.

Weissman said it is hard to estimate how much the artwork will sell for, but that the collection should bring in several million dollars. The Picasso could garner more than $25,000 and a signed Andy Warhol poster, collection of Olympic posters and Kmart memorabilia could be hot buys, he said.

Most pieces of art can be bought immediately, while the high-end pieces will be sold through a bidding process from June through September. Each month will feature different styles and works.

Kmart and Sears combined in a $12.3-billion deal in March 2005 to form Hoffman Estates, Ill.-based Sears Holdings Corp.

Madison Marquette, a Washington, D.C.-based developer, bought Kmart's headquarters in December. Its plans for the 40-acre suburban Detroit site include a luxury hotel, shops, upscale condos, offices and entertainment outlets.

[Last modified June 21, 2006, 02:51:12]

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