Greetings from Arizona!

Right now, I am returning to California from a trip to Scottsdale where I met with our client’s wealth advisors to discuss developing their collection. In just a couple of weeks, my team and I will descend upon The Armory Show where we will assist clients in bringing home newly acquired works of art. All this travel reminds me of a client who recently asked that I value a “missing” work of art. The artwork in question was a rare and highly desirable Joan Mirómonotype. The client provided the original purchase receipt, revealing the monotype was acquired for $8,500 from a reputable dealer in the early 1980s. Further investigation unearthed that the print was currently insured for $30,000, suspiciously low.

My research had only just begun and I wanted to know more, so I called the insurance company who was handling the claim. Where did they obtain the $30,000 value?  And why was the Miró missing? Apparently the monotype disappeared during the client’s recent move. The shipping company had packed the Miró and transported it to their new home. When the client opened the box, which was believed to contain the Miró, low and behold it was missing. To add insult to injury, a poster the client did not own and had never seen before was packed in the original box. The shippers had “lost” the Miró. As if this was not distressing enough, the story only gets more upsetting. The owners had the Miró scheduled on their insurance for $30,000 while the current value of the print had dramatically increased. The actual retail replacement value was nearly ten times the scheduled value. Sadly, the clients could only file a claim for up to $45,000.

All too often, clients do not have updated insurance values on their art and collectables, and damage to art most commonly occurs when it is being moved. Furthermore, shippers place the burden of insurance on you, making it your responsibility to have adequate coverage for transport. When I asked the insurer what options my client had to make up the difference in value between $45,000 and $300,000, they confirmed it was the obligation of the insured to ensure scheduled values are current.

Unfortunately this scenario is not rare. Here is some strategic advice in protecting your tangible assets, and preventing this from happening to you:

  • Have updated valuations on collections. At Pall Mall Art Advisors, we review all of our clients’ appraisals annually and we will let the client know if we recommend a reappraisal to adjust the values appropriately in accordance with the current market.
  • Schedule your most valuable objects on your insurance policy. It is recommended you work with one of the leading insurance companies who will ensure the claims process is simple and professional. Chubb, ACE, PURE, AXA and AIG are the dominant players in this space. If you don’t have an insurance broker, we can recommend one in your city.
  • Interview the packer/shipper before hiring them to move your most precious items. If planning to move art soon, we provide more tips on preparing for your move here.
  • Speak to your insurance broker to ensure your art is covered during transit. You want to make sure that if there is a loss you will be covered for the full replacement value.

Remember, our art and collectables are not only emotionally important but are assets that need to be protected.

– Anita Heriot, President