Fine Art Storage: A Cautionary Tale

The continued strength of the contemporary-art market and the growing need for secure, climate-controlled art storage space is increasing as more and more art is created, purchased by collectors and acquired by museums.

Art storage facilities are supposed to be forward looking to make sure that property entrusted to them for safekeeping remains protected and unaltered while in their custody. Elements such as temperature, humidity, and pest control are vital to preserving artworks from any damage or total loss. Certain mediums like paper, canvas, plaster, metal, and clay are of course particularly vulnerable to temperature and humidity fluctuations. Yet sometimes things go wrong even with the best of intentions.

For example, a well-known storage facility received multiple lawsuits for damage, incurred during 2012’s hurricane Sandy. Ultimately, artworks in many studios, galleries, and storage facilities were severely damaged when Sandy, a tropical storm that was updated to a hurricane, hit the tri-state area.

In lawsuits resulting from those damages to art stored, the point of contention is the manner by which liability is allocated in storage contracts. Some contracts between the storage facility and its clients required clients to obtain an art insurance policy. In other instances, there may have been waivers of subrogation or a limitation of liability clause.

In addition to mother nature, accidents also happen, but not that often. A fire at Momart’s east London warehouse in 2004 destroyed hundreds of works by such noted artists as Tracey Emin, Damien Hirst, and Chris Ofili. A fire at Artex’s warehouse in Dedham, Mass., in 2005 destroyed and damaged many pieces. In 2004, Fine Art Logistics, a storage company in London, mistakenly left out for trash a 1984 sculpture by Anish Kapoor.

This is why it is so important to perform due diligence and speak with Art Insurance professionals like Bernard Fleischer & Sons Inc. (ArtInsuranceNow.com) for a clear picture on insurance coverages, to allow the art owner the ability to make well-informed decisions on obtaining insurance.

Call us at 800.921.1008 to speak with an Art Insurance Professional and visit us at ArtInsuranceNow.com to apply for a free quote and live chat with an agent.