Fire, hurricanes, and floods are not the only risks to your collection.
Sure, we all know about the major threats to our cherished artworks like theft and natural disasters. But, there are other risks that are less covered in the news and equally as harmful. Here are some threats to collectors and art collections that we think you should know about.
Your artwork is part of your home. It’s the backdrop of your day-to-day. So, it most likely appears in your social media. Consider how you share your spaces digitally. You may have secure inventories and then do something banal like upload a photo onto Instagram with your prized Picasso in the background. Fast forward to your family on a safari in Africa. You post photos of that. Now, a potential and observant thief makes the connection that you are not home with your Picasso. And thanks to your Instagram post, that thief knows exactly what wall to find the painting on. Cue: theft.
You may have a lot of protocols in place, but often our digital presence is forgotten about. Be cautious and think about how your living spaces are shared on social media.
Sometimes you are not in control of what is posted on social media. And, social gatherings are rife for photography and posting.
We’ve heard stories of personal security guard taking selfies in front of high-value art, and of guests taking photos and tagging them on social media. This is a leak in your privacy. Consider asking guests to keep their phones in the coatroom.
Also, can you imagine if something was bumped or ruined at your party? Insurance coverage or not, you don’t want to see a work destroyed by a glass of red wine or a gravity-deficient party-goer.
Lack of proper insurance
“Not having insurance is one of the biggest risk to collectors and their collections,” asserts Shanna Hennig, Southwest Director at Winston Art Group. She continues, “accidents and natural disasters happen. Improper or inadequate insurance, or even no insurance, only exacerbates the financial headaches and emotional turmoil for collectors.”
Often collectors do not get coverage from a specialty carrier. Why should you consider a specialty carrier like Chubb and AIG? From Shanna, “Insurance providers that offer comprehensive valuable articles policies can ensure clients have proper coverage to protect against financial loss as a result of damage, destruction or theft of artwork. But equally as important, they guide their clients through the claims process and utilize best-in-class specialists for restoration, transport, storage and valuation. You have a team behind you to walk and guide you through the claims process.” With the proper insurance carrier, you get someone that understands the complexities of collections.
There is a misunderstanding that insurance is expensive, but really, what is the cost of being uninsured?
Collectors may also be wary of sharing information about their artworks with other parties. Shanna shares that,
“Privacy is a big concern for collectors. Often, there is a fear that if they share with their collections information with an insurance company, there is a possibility it could end up in the hands of another party. They fear the lack of control over their data and personal privacy. Unfortunately, by not insuring their collections, collectors could be exposing themselves to other issues.”
Remember that festive gathering at a collector’s house? If a Chinese vase from the Ming dynasty were to crash to the floor and shatter, and the owner is uninsured, not only is there a physical loss, but also a financial one—thrown away with the pieces. It’s value not to be returned.
One of the most common insurance claims according to Winston Art Group is water damage. Think burst pipes. Water damage comes from natural disasters like floods but can also occur from isolated incidents like water sprinklers going off after a smoke detector alarm, an improperly installed ice maker, or improper humidity settings.
And with water damage comes mold.
It’s in your best interest to have a fine art professional periodically inspect your collection to ensure that your pieces are installed properly and stored in the right conditions. Here are some questions to answer in order to best protect your pieces:
Are your works installed and stored at the right temperature?
Are humidity controls set at the correct level?
Is there water seepage?
Are works properly hung?
No inventory or care plan
The purchase of your work is only the beginning. Properly maintaining and preserving your collection involves inventory, conservation, insurance, appraisals, proper installation, estate planning, etc.. You can learn more about the true cost of your collection here.
This is probably one of the easiest threats you can avoid. Don't be without an inventory and care plan.
Online art collection management systems like Artwork Archive are easy to implement and manage. With your artworks and financials all in one place, you can easily track your values, condition reports, and appraisals. That way you have information available immediately when you need it.
William S Jiggetts