Category Archives: Art Insurance

The Butler Did It (a classic art-theft)

At the sprawling Bel-Air estate of oil tycoon Howard Keck, his wife Elizabeth often played cards in a side room decorated with fine art. One of the artworks hanging on the wall of this room was a painting by Swedish impressionist artist Anders Zorn (1860-1920) entitled I Fria Luften. For almost three months, Elizabeth felt a vague subliminal uneasiness about the painting that she just couldn’t put her finger on. Finally, she did put her finger on it – on the canvas itself, and suddenly realized she was touching a photograph rather than the oil painting that was supposed to be in the elaborate gilt frame.

The theft was an obvious inside job by a person who had regular access to the painting. Someone took a high-quality photo of the painting and then had a custom lab blow up the image so that it would exactly fit the existing space for the stretcher and frame.

Detectives learned that three months earlier, the family butler had unexpectedly quit his job with the Kecks. Rune “Roy” Gunnar Donell, 61-years old, who had been a faithful employee at the estate for 11 years, announced that he was leaving because he needed surgery. He and his wife Christina, who was a cook at the estate, left at the same time. Elizabeth offered to pay for Roy’s surgery if he and Christina would stay, but they refused. Elizabeth remembered that Roy, who was a Swedish national, often admired the Zorn painting and commented that it would bring a high price in Sweden.

With the assistance of Interpol and the Swedish police, detectives attempted to trace Roy’s activities during his frequent flights back home. Detectives learned that almost a year ago, Roy Donell had appeared at a Swedish auction house called Beijars Auktioner, Scandinavian Art and Antiques AB. Roy auctioned off a painting entitled Fete Gallante by French artist Sebastien Jacques Le Clerc. Elizabeth Keck was contacted and verified that she owned the Le Clerc painting which was given to her as a gift. After talking to detectives, she searched for it and discovered it was also missing.

Swedish authorities learned that after collecting his money for the painting, Roy showed the auctioneers a photograph of a painting entitled Kvinna Klaer Sitt Barn (Woman Dressing Her Child). Detectives learned this was another title for Zorn’s I Fria Luften oil painting. Roy told the auctioneers that if they were interested in purchasing it, he could come back with the painting. Six months later, Roy arrived in Sweden accompanied by a woman of Latin appearance. Roy was met at the airport by the directors of the Swedish Auctioneers Office. He had the Zorn painting with him and consigned it for sale through the same auction house. Based on the date that Roy arrived in Sweden with the painting, detectives calculated that the bogus photo reproduction of the painting had been hanging in the Keck residence for five months before the theft was discovered.

The painting sold at auction for $527,000. The money went to Roy Donell.

Detectives arrested Roy before he could flee the area. He was held on $500,000 bail. During a search of his West L.A. apartment, detectives found evidence of money transfers from the sale of art belonging to the Kecks. Cameras and negatives depicting paintings were found along with a paper identifying Roy as a freelance photographer. There was also a receipt from a storage yard in Redondo Beach. When detectives called the manager at the storage yard, they learned that Roy stored a 25-foot motor home at the location. Roy tried to convince the detectives that he sold the motor home.

When detectives served a search warrant on the motor home and shimmied through a side window, they found two additional blowup photos of the Zorn painting, similar to the one found in the frame. Detectives were surprised to find another blowup photo, the exact size of a painting hanging in the Keck residence. The painting was entitled Ducks on the Banks of a River by German artist Alexander Koester (1864-1932). Detectives quickly contacted Elizabeth Keck to make sure the original painting was still hanging on the wall. Luckily, it was. It appears that Roy, emboldened by the success of his two earlier “acquisitions,” was planning to remove still another painting from the Keck residence, replacing it with a photograph.

Roy Donell was prosecuted for two counts of grand theft. As the start of the trial approached, prosecutors had no idea what defense Roy could possibly wage to counter the avalanche of evidence against him. However, the District Attorney’s Office soon learned that Roy was going to use a novel tactic. The Kecks were embroiled in protracted divorce proceedings at the time of the theft. During the monthlong trial, Roy admitted selling the two paintings in Sweden but claimed he was acting as an agent for Elizabeth Keck to sell assets without Howard Keck’s knowledge. Roy claimed he gave most of the money to Elizabeth, keeping $90,000 as his commission.

Elizabeth declared Roy’s assertions as “ludicrous” that she would conspire with her butler to sell the paintings and then report her discovery of the stolen paintings to the police. But enough doubt had been placed in the minds of the jury for them to acquit Roy of the charges. Some jury members later stated that the prosecution had simply not proven the case against Roy “beyond a reasonable doubt,” which is the stringent burden of proof in criminal cases.

The Swedish government refused to return the paintings, claiming that according to Swedish law, the auction buyers had purchased the paintings in good faith.

We represent Insurance Companies to make it easy for you to protect the things you collect.

Homeowner’s insurance alone does not provide enough coverage for your treasured items. That’s why our collector’s policy is the perfect complement to your standard personal lines products. It enables you to protect the full value of your collections in the event of a total loss.

 

A Jackson Pollock gets public view restoration

Jackson Pollock’s painting Number 1, 1949, is a swirl of multi-colored paint, dripped, flung and slung across a 5-by-8-foot canvas. It’s a textured work — including nails and a trapped bee  — and in the nearly 70 years since its creation, it’s attracted a fair bit of dust, dirt and grime.

That’s where conservator Chris Stavroudis comes in: His job is to clean the painting using swabs, solvents, and tiny brushes. For the last several months, he’s been hard at work, once a week, in full view of the public, in a gallery at The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.

Some high school students watched Stavroudis wield his swabs — they have to make their own Pollocks for school, and want to know how he painted.

“The canvas was put on the floor and dribbled on,” Stavroudis explains. “He used sticks and dipped them into house paint, enamel paint, and then dribbled the paint off the stick and onto the canvas.”

There are many different reasons for conservation and although many conservators work on behalf of insurance companies to repair accidental damages it doesn’t mean they don’t also insure the works while in their possession.

ArtInsuranceNow.com has designed coverages to meet the specific needs of conservators. We help clients select adequate coverage for items in their care, custody, and control for restoration or conservation.

We cover items while:
In transit, on premises, at a work site, scheduled, and unnamed locations. Insuring an art practice is more than just protecting premises and stock against damage or theft. We provide seamless and flexible coverage for business exposures, as well. Even our most basic coverage provides solid protection.

For comprehensive Fine-Art Insurance Coverage call us at 800.921.1008 and visit ArtInsuranceNow.com

When Fine-Art Meets Comic-Art

The influence of Comic-Art

It’s a trend that’s reflective of our times, with the record-setting box office of Avengers: Infinity War at a total of $1,813,732,959 in only 4 weeks! Comics as an art form is hugely popular, and we want to help protect those collections.

Most people debate whether to go with a painting or a photograph when filling an empty wall space. But lately, people are turning to something that reflects their pop culture interests, opting for art that depicts superheroes both well-known and obscure.

The appeal of these characters has gone mainstream in a big way, ensuring that vintage comic collections will continue to increase in value. With this increased popularity, there has also been more interest in collecting original comic book art. A popular cover of “Amazing Spider-Man” #328 pitting the title character against the Hulk by Todd McFarlane fetched $657,250 at auction in 2012, and a Sotheby’s Comic Art auction fetched $4.1 Million in 2015.

With the increasing values of this American Art Form comes the increasing exposure to theft and loss due to fire, floods, and damaging weather. We at Bernard Fleischer & Sons Inc. / ArtInsuranceNow.com provide Fine Art & Collectibles Insurance to give peace of mind to the avid collector and with over 60 years of experience under our belt, we can Insure your collection properly to fit your particular situation.

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$60,000 Jeff Koons’ Sculpture Destroyed at Amsterdam Exhibit.

One of Jeff Koons’ reflective “Gazing Balls” was shattered into pieces, after a curious visitor touched it in an Amsterdam church. The glass work was on display in an exhibition at Nieuwe Kerk (a 15th Century church known for its high-profile art exhibitions) when it was destroyed on the last day of the show.

In the “Gazing Ball” series the artist has taken 35 masterpieces, including Manet’s Déjeuner sur l’Herbe, Géricault’s Raft of the Medusa and Rembrandt’s Self-Portrait Wearing a Hat and had them repainted in oil on canvas, and added a little shelf, painted as if it had sprouted directly from the image and placed a blue glass orb upon them, as a follow-up to his 2013 series that balanced gazing balls on plaster sculptures.

The gazing ball was the centerpiece of the exhibition. A spokesperson for Nieuwe Kerk confirmed that a visitor had touched the glass ball, which immediately broke, leaving behind shards. The painting itself remains undamaged, and no one was injured.

Many risks are exposed to Fine Art during an exhibition, including those during the transportation of said Artwork. For the one-off or traveling exhibitions, we provide wall-to-wall coverage for items on display and in transit, this way your lenders can have the peace of mind that they are insured. Coverage can include:

Packing crates, catalogues & brochures, Items covered in transit, art in storage between transits, worldwide private & public venues, and touring shows. Coverage for items worth $50,000 up to $100,000,000

Nothing less than a comprehensive Fine Art policy supplied by trusted insurance broker ArtInsuranceNow.com / Bernard Fleischer & Sons Inc. for your valued Artwork will do.

Visit us at https://www.artinsurancenow.com or call us at 800.921.1008

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Artwork in Transit; Managing the Risks

The top risks art collectors might face surprisingly doesn’t include theft. In fact, its art that’s on the move that poses the biggest risk. A large proportion of art claims are derived from transit losses. Private collectors enjoy lending, particularly as exhibitions in major institutions can increase value, that’s all very well until something goes wrong.

The movement of art is massive, now art is transported coast to coast, internationally or just to your winter home or local Gallery. When handling artwork, packing for transportation is a top concern for insurance carriers.

Many policies list as a condition, professional packing, meaning it must be packed as someone in the industry would pack it, safe, secure and protective from breaking if possible.

If you use a transportation service, either a fine art mover, a local mover, or common carrier, you must verify if they have or offer Insurance, what are their limits, conditions and the cost of the coverage. Insurance carriers differ and may have restrictions or limitations while your valuables are on the road, on a ship, or in air transit. The most common, efficient and safe way of moving art over long distances, domestically or internationally is by air transport, but it is very common to move the work yourself, so make sure your policy covers self-conveyance.

Some art transporting choices such as those offered by, United Parcel Service (UPS), DHL, Federal Express (FedEx), and other private art handling companies or commercial air freight carriers have limitations on coverages, territory, and deductibles. Keep in mind that while these are services used for fragile and non-fragile fine art, things happen within their control and outside of their control. Looking to your own insurance policy for protection is the right way to limit your financial losses and the quickest way to have the claim settled.

Artists, art dealers, and institutions use these Art transport services regularly, but Insurance, in particular, is the gray area in which most misunderstandings occur. Pay close attention to the bill of lading and understanding the fine print. The standard form limits the exposure of a claim on the art to weight, not value.

Our policies are written either as a schedule or market value less a percentage. Either way, your art will be protected while in transport. Caution, it’s important when securing transit art insurance to add extra days of transport for the unknown delays. Also note the declared value placed in customs forms or the bill of Lading is usually not used when settling a claim but look for wording which would specify to the contrary.

According to FedEx, “shipments (packages or freight) containing all or part of the following items are limited to a maximum declared value of $500: Artwork, including any work created or developed by the application of skill, taste or creative talent for sale, display or collection.

This includes, but is not limited to, items (and their parts) such as paintings, drawings, vases, tapestries, limited-edition prints, fine art, statuary, sculpture, collectors’ items, customized or personalized musical instruments, Film, photographic images, including photographic negatives, photographic chromes and photographic slides.

Any commodity that by its inherent nature is particularly susceptible to damage, or the market value of which is particularly variable or difficult to ascertain.”

According to UPS, articles of “unusual value” are prohibited from being offered for shipment. This definition explicitly includes “works of art.” As the November New York-based auctions ended and Art Basel Miami Beach began, for collectors buying and selling art no doubt demanded lots of their attention, they also should be thinking about keeping their art safe and properly insured as it moves between locations.

With the expansion of the global art market, risks increase. To discover a larger number of buyers, auction houses and art dealers often display art at multiple locations, including a growing number of art fairs around the world like Art Basel. The high volume of art exchanging hands increases the risk of improper handling and accidental damage and therefore increases the number of fine art insurance claims.

You should know where your art will be stored while in the possession of art dealers or auction houses. This is critical. For example, many consigned works were stored in art gallery basements in Chelsea during Hurricane Sandy, leaving many damaged. Art galleries may also store artwork at an off-site storage facility. Being notified before your piece is moved from one location to another is also a precaution and obtaining confirmation on how it will be packed and transported will help to ensure a smooth consignment process.

Don’t presume that the auction house, gallery owner, art dealer, or shipping company with possession of your artwork has insurance for its loss, theft or damage. It’s very important to have your own fine art policy. Collectors should always consult with an insurance agent. The agent can tailor a policy to a specific collector and discover any special provisions in the collector’s fine art policy.
No matter what risks they face, creating an insurance policy for an art collector requires one-on-one consultation since every art collection is unique, no two collectors are alike and no two collections are alike.

Collectors and their advisers would be wise to work with knowledgeable insurance brokers like Bernard Fleischer & Sons Inc.  that can guide you in obtaining the right fine art insurance for your unique requirements. For more info visit www.artinsurancenow.com and live chat with us or call us at 800.921.1008

Took home a drunk date, now 2 Warhol’s destroyed, WTF?

Drunk woman pulls on mans tie

First Date Horror Story.

Authorities say an intoxicated Dallas woman who was on a first date with a prominent Houston trial lawyer caused at least $300,000 in damage to his art collection, including two Andy Warhol paintings.

Lindy Lou Layman, 29, was arrested on criminal mischief charges after her date with Anthony Buzbee. She was released on $30,000 bond.

Prosecutors say Buzbee, 49, told investigators that Layman got too intoxicated on their date, so he called her an Uber after they returned to his home. Buzbee said Layman refused to leave and hid inside the home, when he found her and called a second Uber, she got aggressive.

Authorities said she tore down several paintings and poured red wine on some while yelling obscenities. She also allegedly threw two $20,000 sculptures across the room and shattered them.

The damaged Warhol paintings were each valued at $500,000 in court documents.

Buzbee has represented high-profile figures, including former Texas Gov. Rick Perry. Then-candidate Donald Trump also visited his home last year when Buzbee held a fundraiser.

 

Collector’s Policy cover these scenarios?

YES! Visit ARTINSURANCENOW.COM because our Collector’s policy covers damages while Art is in the home. How is a loss settled? A restorer or appraiser will evaluate the work to determine the current condition and decide If the art can be repaired or not. If not, payment is based on the schedule amount or the current market price, if it’s a blanket policy

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Visit www.ArtInsuranceNow.com to learn more, apply below or feel free to contact us at 1.800.921.1008

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Art Exhibition Insurance – The Details

As representatives of the top Insurance carriers that insure exhibitions locally, in multi-states and internationally, we know coverages.

Each company has their own distinct forms to insure the unique exposures related to exhibitions. Coverages while in transit, at the exhibition venue, and in storage vary by company.

Below are some highlighted coverages to consider when placing insurance for an exhibition, how to protect the lenders, and what is the right valuation method.

 

About Exhibition Coverage

Most Art Insurance policies not only insure the work on exhibition, but also the didactic and ancillary materials such as vitrines, hardware, technology, and supportive structures.

A typical Policy I use with my insureds exhibition policy includes:

  • Agreed Value: We usually require a schedule prior to binding, but different terms can be negotiated.
  • Worldwide coverage for transit: is important when gathering works from overseas collectors.
  • Named Location: some policy covers only named location and excludes transit
  • Scheduled or Blanket: 
    • The schedule:  Establishes the price of the work to be insured.
    • Blanket: policy usually has a per item cap along with the onus of proof of value is on the insured.
  •  Loss Payee Certificates: These are issued if a lender requires proof of coverage and insures the check will be made to them in case of a loss.

 

  • Additional Important Exhibition Coverages one should verify if covered:
    • Packing crates, catalogs, and brochures included
    • Nail to Nail coverage:Coverage from point of pick up until returned.
    • Goods in transit
    • Art in storage in-between transit

 

  • Broad, all-risk coverage
  • Blanket limits on propertyin your care, custody, and control at scheduled locations and any other unnamed locations. Beware of sub-limits.
  • Domestic and international transit: To/from list of Exhibition Locations
  • No coinsurance clause penalty
  • Valuation clauses: important to know how a loss will be settled. Our policies are designed for the art industry
  • Coverage for jointly-ownedworks of art should be disclosed and understood how a loss will be paid in those instances.
  • Special clauses for “loss buy back” or “pairs and sets”
  • Relaxed appraisal requirements with most companies
  • Based on Consignment value established at time of pick up.

 

About Exhibition Exclusions and Conditions:

These policy forms usually include the standard and not so standard Exhibition polices.

Wear and tear, moth, vermin, and insects.

Damage resulting from any repair, restoration, or retouching process.

Nuclear, radiation, biological or chemical contamination.

War, invasion, an act of foreign enemies, hostilities, military or usurped power.

Confiscated, damaged or destroyed by or order of any government or public or local authority, except if taken at the time of a fire to prevent it’s spread.

In Conclusion: Art insurance has many variables and sections which can be negotiated, if you are a knowledgeable Art Insurance broker.

Caution! Art Claims are Taxable, Read on.

Losing treasured items is traumatic enough, imagine being taxed for replacing them.

In an insightful article by leading tax professional Julian Block, the perils of being taxed on an Insurance claim for art that has appreciated are explained.

Using the received replacement value to purchase works of other types may not qualify you for the IRS’ “complete non-recognition of gain under the involuntary conversion rules”. This means you can be taxed.

Read the incisive article below and visit ArtInsuranceNow.com for comprehensive Fine Art coverages.

*The law authorizes an important tax break for a property owner who collects insurance (or other compensation) for property lost due to fire, theft or condemnation by a governmental authority. Ordinarily, you’re liable for an immediate tax on any excess over the cost basis of your property.

But a special rule permits taxes to be deferred if the proceeds are reinvested in similar property within the deadlines imposed by the IRS for replacement. For the “involuntary conversion” rules to apply, Code Section 1033 mandates that the replacement property has to be “similar or related in service or use” to the property replaced.

Understandably, words like “similar” lend themselves to different interpretations. Also understandable is that the IRS sometimes takes a hard-nosed approach.

Consider, for example, Letter Ruling 8127089. It held that oil paintings aren’t “similar” to lithographs so as to be eligible for involuntary conversion deferral.

The ruling dealt with a request for advice from someone I’ll call Irene Holmes. A fire in her home destroyed an art collection that included about 3,000 lithographs and a small number (about 1 percent of the entire collection) of oil paintings, pencil drawings, and wood carvings. A prudent Irene had insured the collection for its full current value. As current value exceeds her cost basis, a portion of the insurance proceeds represents gain.

Irene explained that she intends to use the proceeds from the insurance to purchase the replacement property. The replacements will consist of a mix of media — approximately 63 percent lithographs and 37 percent art works in other artistic media, such as oil paintings, watercolors, sculptures or other graphic forms of art — rather than reflect the composition of the lost artwork.

With that set of facts, the IRS “will not consider as property similar or related in service or use, art work in one medium, destroyed in whole or in part, replaced with art work in another medium. Therefore, in order to qualify for complete non-recognition of gain under the involuntary conversion rules,” the IRS spelled out what Irene has to do.

She “must purchase the same percentage of lithographs as were destroyed in whole or in part and the same percentage of art works in other artistic media as were destroyed in whole or in part.”

What happens if Irene decides to reinvest as proposed (63 percent in lithographs and 37 percent in other media? She’s going to be liable for taxes on the 37 percent of the proceeds that she reinvests in “other artistic media.”

Additional articles. A reminder for accountants who would welcome advice on how to alert clients to tactics that trim taxes for this year and even give a head start for next year: Delve into the archive of my articles (more than 225 and counting).

*Reprinted with permission from a Feb 20th, 2018 article by Julian Block.

About Julian Block

Attorney and author Julian Block is frequently quoted in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post. He has been cited as “a leading tax professional” (New York Times), an “accomplished writer on taxes” (Wall Street Journal), and “an authority on tax planning” (Financial Planning magazine). More information about his books can be found at julianblocktaxexpert.com.

Risk exposures such as natural disasters and unexpected events like fire, flood, earthquakes, and storms, can cause extreme damage. Protect your art investments by obtaining an art insurance policy by Art Insurance Now / Bernard Fleischer & Sons Inc.

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Visit www.ArtInsuranceNow.com to learn more, apply here or feel free to contact William Fleischer, CIC at 1.800.921.1008

Fire & Water, Devastates Artist’s Studio.

Commissioned Princeton University Artist’s studio destroyed by firemen’s overspray. Did her Artist studio policy cover her? No! and this is why.

She never bought one. If she did, all of her artwork in racks, stands, files, and on walls, is covered.  Her materials and tools are covered.  Even the reference library is covered.

I feel for artists that see financial hardship when there is a loss similar to this.

For $1,000 per year, your art is covered up to $100,000, not just in the studio but also in transit, at exhibitions and in storage, everywhere worldwide.

Follow our link at the bottom of this article and purchase an Artist studio policy today.

Art studios give artists the space they need to create as well as a way to store their completed works of art and sell art from the studio. Due to the nature of the work in an art studio, art studio insurance is essential. Risk exposures such as natural disasters and unexpected events like fire, flood, earthquakes, and storms, can cause extreme damage to the building and contents. Protect these risks by obtaining an artist insurance policy offered by Art Insurance Now / Bernard Fleischer & Sons Inc.

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Artist Studios Need Insurance Too

Many artists neglect to insure their practice because they mistakenly believe they’re already covered by a homeowner or rental policy—which are strictly limited in coverage to assets that aren’t considered part of a business. (Sorry, but at least in this case, your art, if it’s for sale, is considered a business.) Sometimes, insurance riders—essentially add-ons to a general policy—can be purchased to cover works of art or business practices, but an insurance brokerage like Bernard Fleischer & Sons Inc. / ArtInsuranceNow.com concentrates in the more complicated policies that art insurance typically requires. Our agency is experienced at navigating provenance and the complicated methods for valuating works of art and a familiarity with insuring studios and art collections.

 

Other artists hesitate with insurance because they’re unsure at what point a work of art is technically finished—at what point it stops being a conglomerate of a couple hundred dollars’ worth of material, and starts becoming a valuable “piece.” Fortunately, in this case, the insurance industry is largely unconcerned with such philosophical questions. Generally speaking, insurance adjustors will use an artist’s past sales to determine valuation. If you sold a similar painting for $1,000 (and can provide legitimate documentation), expect a valuation of about $1,000, unless you’ve started working with precious metals.

 

Certainly, the most tragic losses in the event of a disaster are those of human life. Second to that, for many people in the arts, are cultural artifacts. Therefore, it’s important to insure our cultural legacy. Meanwhile, insurance companies can feel very far removed from the arts—with their talk of “assets”—and scare collectors, gallerists, and, yes, even artists, from maintaining proper insurance coverage.

 

We at Bernard Fleischer & Sons Inc. / ArtInsuranceNow.com speak the language of the arts as well as insurance and can bridge the gap between the art community and the insurance industry to protect the legacies of the collector, gallerist, museum and artist.

Visit us at www.ArtInsuranceNow.com to learn more or call us at 800-921-1008 to speak with someone who can help with your particular needs.