A 60-by-13-foot tile mural by Romare Bearden has taken the Port Authority of Allegheny County by surprise. The work, located in a Pittsburgh subway station that's scheduled to be demolished as part of a $435 million subway extension, has been appraised for $15 million, far more than its assumed worth.
''We did not expect it to be that much,'' Port Authority representative Judi McNeil. ''We don't have the wherewithal to be a caretaker of such a valuable piece.''
Bearden was paid $90,000 for Pittsburgh Recollections, which was installed in 1984. It would now cost the agency more than $100,000 to insure the work.
The Port Authority is looking for an arts organization to bear the cost of removing, restoring, relocating, and maintaining the mural, said McNeil. If they fail to find one, they will look for an arts institution willing to exhibit the work or will auction it off.
The agency also owns a 203-by-9-foot work by Sol LeWitt installed in another subway station. It has not been appraised.