Protecting Art in eARTh

Protecting Art in eARTh

Illustration of planet earth with rainbow watercolor splashes and ink strokes on white background. The object is separate from the background.

One of the most beautiful things about our species is our ability to create something completely new out of the resources around us and our imagination. Furthermore, is our ability to project raw emotion onto the canvas, through dance or song, or through a photograph that is felt by others.

Caravaggio was able to project the harshness of reality of a scene (such as The Calling of St. Matthew or David with the Head of Goliath) through his use of light and shading, also known as chiaroscuro. The viewer of a Van Gogh painting could see the somber, depressed emotion of the famous painter through his use of color and brush strokes.

Emotion is even conveyed in architecture. For example, the African American Museum, designed as a spiral that visitors walk through in the chronological order of the actual historical events, in Washington DC, designed by David Adjaye, tells “the American story through the lens of African American history and culture”[1].

The works of artists previously mentioned as well as infinite others are often described as “priceless” works. Whether it is due to their timeless beauty or even to the sentiments and memories behind the piece, art has served to enrich the human experience. Art can also serve to enhance the value of your portfolio and, if properly insured, can help you to continue to live in a world full of creativity. As the popular saying goes, “the earth without art is eh”.

How is Artwork Valued?

“Like currency, the commercial value of art is based on collective intentionality”[2]. The valuation of artwork can be controversial. Other than its aesthetic purpose, works of art serve no realistic function in the owner’s life. However, the market value of art can be determined via the following five criteria:

  1. Provenance: History of ownership of the work
  2. Condition: Physical shape of the piece given the period in which it was created
  3. Quality: While this attribute is relative, those who are well versed in the art world are able to come to an agreement as to what separates successful works of art from the more mundane, average works
  4. Authenticity
  5. Exposure

Of course, works of art that transcended their time and/or are the only one of their kind are going to be valued higher than the works produced in accordance with the trends. Works that came out of the Renaissance are a fine example as this was the period that focused on man’s beauty and human nature. Previously, works of art centered on religion and Christianity during the Middle Ages.

In order to determine the value of your art and if it is an investment worth including in your net worth, it may be worthwhile to pay a visit to an appraiser who is well educated in the type of artwork and/or the period it may have come from.

Once appraised, you now have a monetary value to pair with your “priceless” work; how do you go about ensuring you are made whole should the piece get stolen or destroyed?

In many cases, the works in your home are not covered through your insurance policy unless the losses happened due to theft, fire, and water[3]. And even if they are covered, they may be subject to very small sub limits for fine art (often as small as $1,500 per item and $2,500 per occurrence). “Riders” can be included in your policy that allows the work to be covered at its full appraised price. For works of art valued at $10,000, the rider may cost as little as $100.

There are insurance companies that specialize in providing coverage for artwork. Known as “fine art insurance companies” that specialize in insuring fine works of art such as paintings, these companies provide a more specialized, personal approach to making sure your most valuable pieces are protected. In order to begin the process of applying for coverage, appraisal and provenance documentation are often required.

At Yeske Buie, your values serve as the foundation for your financial plan. The things you value are also important. If you find that you may have a few pieces of art worth protecting and/or are interested in pursuing the art world as a collector, we would love to be a part of your process by creating a plan that reflects your values and hobbies – we are good people to think with!