Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts commissioned the murals from the French painter for its lobby in the 1960s.
The paintings will remain in the lobby unless the Met defaults on the loan. Clark wasn't sure whether the Met had used art works as collateral before. The Met's Chagall collateral was first reported by New York Magazine.
The Met earlier this month announced it was dropping four performances from its 2009-2010 season and slashing senior staff members salaries by 10 percent to stay within its $291 million annual budget. The opera house's $300 million endowment has fallen with stock prices, along with donations, Met General Manager Peter Gelb said.
The trend of putting up fine art as collateral has been growing in recent months as the economy staggers. An increasing number of people are turning to firms that lend money against fine and decorative arts after having their assets wiped out by the financial crisis.
Photographer Annie Liebovitz is among artists who have recently put up their work as collateral to borrow millions from lenders. Liebovitz borrowed over $15 million against rights to all her photographs and her New York townhouse, according to city records.
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