As with everything, foresight is important in Art. This disheartening story is in point. At the passing of their parents, the children divided among themselves the paintings that were part of the estate. So far, so good. Works of great value, from highly renowned artists. Then a sinister event occurred: a major fire at the home of one of the heirs. Many paintings are destroyed. A total loss. The legatee files a claim with his insurance company: $40,000 for a Suzor-Côté, $20,000 for this Cosgrove, $15,000 for a René-Richard and $37,000 divvied-up among three works by Francesco Iacurto, Claude Picher and René Gagnon. “Dad said he paid $40,000 for the Suzor-Côté,” says the son, but there is no proof.
Altogether we are talking about $122,000 worth of artworks that went up in smoke. Not including the lost patrimonial and historic value of these assets. The home itself was evaluated at $259,000 and insurance covered this amount. The glitch is that the paintings themselves were not insured. This is where the problems start, hassles opening wide the door to the tactics of insurance companies. Were there assessment certificates delivered by an independent assessor? No. Where pictures of the artworks submitted to the insurer prior to the incident? No. Then, everything will be considered as part of the “movable assets” provision, at great loss. Which would be appalling. Hence the importance of having your artworks assessed by a specialist, since their value f luctuates according to numerous criteria and parameters but mostly through supply and demand on the market.
Retaining purchase invoices pertaining to the artworks is certainly helpful, but only to a certain extent. For insurers will conduct their own assessment in keeping with their profit rationale, or if you prefer… paying as little as possible… and this, by touring galleries to determine the current asking price for your artworks. This sinister roundabout could lead to the under-valuation of your property, which would thus be significantly lower or erroneous. Every insurance company has its own policy in this regard. It’s up to you to make sure you have a clear understanding of your coverage to avoid incurring important losses.
As the saying goes: “It’s better to be safe than sorry!” Very apropos, don’t you think?
Many thanks to Mr. Claude Belley for his collaboration. Galerie LeBelley, 91, rue Saint-Paul, Québec, QC, 418 694-0995
La prévoyance comme en toute chose a sa place en Art…