Art is subjective; something that may be ugly to one may be beautiful to another. Some art pieces look like just paint splatter but show emotions through the work. Although sometimes ‘art’ can seem to be absurd- can you believe a banana taped to the wall sold for US $120,000? However, art has no limits, and ‘some’ artists spend days creating unique pieces. It is truly an amazing industry full of talented individuals and businesses. In the art industry- the artists are responsible for creating art pieces, and a business (exhibition) is responsible for revealing them to the public.
Although, exhibiting art comes with its own risks. These risks include unforeseen damage, loss, theft and more that could occur at any point. Art can be fragile, and exhibitions/auctions can be unpredictable. One of these risks could destroy the artist’s hopes and efforts.
Thankfully there is a specific insurance for the art industry. We get one wouldn’t typically link art and insurance, but art gallery insurance is critical for artists and exhibition businesses. The insurance helps reduce and recover from unpredictable risks. This article will explain the common risks the insurance covers and why.
What is Art Gallery Insurance?
Art gallery insurance is one of the most popular insurances in the industry. It is an insurance designed for recognised artists and exhibition businesses. The insurance can help art galleries and artists obtain the best protection needed to ensure complete stock protection- no matter what happens.
Art gallery insurance provides a comprehensive cover from the point the art collection has left the owner (artist or seller) to the point it’s been sold or returned. Therefore the cover includes when the art is in transit, in the gallery and in transit to another location.
Many things could go wrong with art transportation and exhibitions, and can cost thousands to millions to solve.
The Best Art Gallery Insurance Covers:
Being an art gallery business is nerve-racking. The company is responsible for all the art on their property. Therefore, they have to be extremely careful of how they store, handle and show the art. Some risks include sudden fires, floods, handling accidents and more. The riskiest times are when the public is viewing the art– not everyone will read the ‘Do not touch sign’. A slightly heavy touch can ruin the art and cost the exhibition thousands to renovate.
A saddening example of on-site damage is when an artist took three days to delicately arrange US $15,000 worth of Legos-which was destroyed by a five-year-old in a few seconds. Unfortunately, the child pushed it over accidently, even though there was a barrier to the public. In such cases, the gallery will be liable to pay hefty compensation to the artist, even if it was not their fault. Additionally, artists may lose their profit from the damaged art piece and be unable to reuse it in other exhibitions.
In such situations, art gallery insurance is the perfect asset. First, the insurance will cover any damage that occurs on-site, no matter how it happens. The insurance will cover the restoration costs and compensation costs to the policyholder. Additionally, the insurance will provide a loss settlement fund if the art is beyond repair. Finally, it is the perfect insurance as the business can’t always control such accidents.
Loss At Any Point
There is always a chance of an art piece being lost during transit or misplaced. Loss of art can include the entire art piece or a component. Even if an element goes missing, it can change the look and expression. Unfortunately, a loss of parts can happen when a gallery deals with 50-plus art pieces. The company has to report it, but the art may not find it. There are art pieces that have become famous due to this reason, as no one knows where the piece is.
For example, a sculpture with multiple components may be taken from one location to another with a truck. Due to the bumpy roads, a component may detach from the main piece, and the off-loader may not notice. Eventually, the expert noticed a piece was missing- by then, the truck driver had thought of it as rubbish and disposed of it. As a result, the gallery lost the piece, and the art was not the same without it (lost value).
Loss of art is complicated, and investigations will be held for days -to make sure it is lost and not a fraud. After experts have completed the investigation, art gallery insurance will help the gallery or artist move forward. The insurance will provide the cost of re-creating the component, if possible. If not possible and the art has lost value, the insurance will provide the lost value cost and settlements.
Unfortunately, art is never safe from unpredictable damage, whether resting or on the move. Art collections get moved from one location to another very often. The locations can include galleries, museums, auctions or even the buyers’ locations. When in transit, the risk of damage is high if not stored safely or not handled delicately. One sharp turn or slip of the hand can completely ruin or damage the art piece.
For example, in 2002, the famous Rembrandt’s “Portrait of an Elderly Woman” was accidentlyslashed when dropped on the route from Moscow to Houston. If a high-value painting like this can be a victim of a travel accident, it could happen to any art piece. An accident like this can cause the business a large amount of financial loss and embarrassment.
According to experts, around 60 % of art damage insurance claims are due to its transportation. Art gallery insurance is the perfect cover in such situations and will cover the renovation and loss settlement similar to on-site damage. No matter the transportation duration, an accident can occur at any point; artists and galleries should be prepared with insurance.
There is a long list of art robberies worldwide, some of which have made paintings disappear forever. Art crimes are getting rare due to the new technology in force in galleries, but it still happens once in a while. Especially when it is a small gallery business, theft can occur at any point from transporting to on-site. Art criminals are mysterious; they might not steal the whole art piece but that gold piece from the sculpture.
For example, the most recent big art case occurred in 2020. A well-known painting Frans Hals’ ‘Two Laughing Boys with a Mug of Beer’, was stolen from the museum Hofje Van Aerden in the Netherlands and has still been found. Once again, if art crime can occur in famous museums, there’s nothing stopping criminals from stealing art from small, medium galleries. Art thieves sell the paintings on the black market to earn from their successful crimes.
In criminal cases like these, the insurance companies will work with the police and investigate professionally to solve the crime. The investigators will do their best to find the criminal and the stolen art. Only if the experts cannot recover the art – the insurance will provide the cost of the art and loss settlement costs to the policyholder. Theft may be rare now, but it’s better to be ready in such situations with art gallery insurance.
Restoration – Expert Connections
After an art piece is damaged, it needs to be restored by experts as soon as possible. Restoration is a crucial step that can save or destroy art. Therefore, the art gallery must find the best restoration expert to restore it to the best value. One wrong brush stroke can ruin a costly art piece, and there is no redo after that.
One of the best examples of a restoration disaster is the ‘Ecce Homo’, a 19th-century fresco by the Spanish painter Elias Garcia Martinez. The painting was beautiful, and the owner trusted an armature restorer, who ruined the painting beyond recognition. The outcome was a disaster in the art industry and embarrassing.
With art gallery insurance, art galleries can avoid an incident like this. The insurance provides the policyholder with a connection to a range of experts. These experts are known for their restoration quality and will guarantee a good outcome. So you can stop the mistake with art gallery insurance before it even happens.
Why Does Every Art Business Need Art Gallery Insurance?
Art gallery insurance can be the solution for any of these tough situations. In addition, it provides various benefits to the art industry- for artists and exhibition businesses. Hence, it is a must-have insurance when dealing with multiple art pieces.
The insurance provides the policyholder financial cover when things go wrong and the calmness to recover. Therefore, it is the perfect insurance to deal with the situations above and try to keep the art alive.
Additionally, art is not just a painting or a sculpture- it could be a classic car collection, historical books and more. The insurance allowed the exhibition or owner to keep their art safe and covered from any risk.