Art Insurance, Storage, and Conservation Companies Tweak Policies in Sandy’s Aftermath

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In case collectors needed more incentive to store their art out of reach of floodwater, here’s some: They may have to in order to get it insured. “It’s fair to say that companies insuring fine art are going to take a good look at exposures of basements and grade-level space and ask how high it is off the ground and how vulnerable it is,” insurance company DeWitt Stern‘s managing director Steven Pincus tells the New York Times. “They may introduce more restrictive contracts.” In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, which had art insurers paying out claims from a few thousand dollars to eight-digit figures, companies are recalibrating and focusing their policies.

In a feature on the various behind-the-scenes industries that kicked into overdrive following the hurricane, including suddenly-overworked art restorers, art storage companies, and insurers, the Times notes how the thousands of artworks damaged or destroyed by the super-storm forced companies to re-evaluate their policies.

“We didn’t accept wet work,” said Mark Charest, the director of operations director at Brooklyn-based art storage, transportation, and installation company Winchester Fine Art Services. “We’re not set up to handle it. We didn’t want art coming in that had mold.”

Art conservators and restorers were similarly overwhelmed. “So many clients were contacting me,” Gloria Velandia, the New York-based conservator for Art Basel Miami Beach, told the Times. “‘I love the work,’ they were saying. ‘Can you save it?’ […] You almost have to recreate the flood… You create saline solutions, for example. You have to get the balance right.”

— Benjamin Sutton

(Photo by Katya Valevich.)