UPDATE: Daniel Grant emails a very good point:
"What struck me as odd is that the Met is defending its decision to sell (perhaps awaiting criticism of its move)...
"'About 60 percent of the things we’re deaccessioning came in 1879, so there wasn’t that much scholarship, there wasn’t that much discrimination,' Mr. Hearn. 'They’ve really been extensively reviewed; most have never been exhibited or published.'"
"...while disparaging these items in advance of a sale, which probably won't bolster the prices. I think the Met should pick one direction and stick with it."