Saving a Unique Sculpture from being “binned”

We work to keep our clients safeguarded against every possible eventuality of loss or damage and as specialist art insurance brokers, we are often asked for examples of where claims have occurred to help those that create, curate, house, trade and display valuable works avoid the same thing happening to them.

This means our policies have to cover some unlikely and extreme circumstances, ranging from robbery to terrorism.

“But what are the chances it will happen to me?”

When only extreme and worst-case scenario situations are mentioned in conversations around insurance, it can lead people to ask that dangerous question: “what are the chances that will happen to me?”

And when budgets are tight, insurance can end up neglected and swept under the rug. That’s why we thought we’d share the story of this claim with you.

This incident involving one of our clients was not only caused by an incredibly easy mistake to make, but it could have led to the loss of a highly valuable work of art. Thankfully, they were insured with us, and they had the cover policy needed to help turn the situation around.

The incident: how it happened

One of our clients was having their work displayed at an art fair in a gallery in London. The work in question was a sculpture: three intricately made, slightly bent-looking porcelain cans.

 After the fair had finished and all the attendees had packed up and headed home, a member of the gallery’s cleaning staff began doing their rounds.

All the art from the fair was still on display and in the same position as it had been during the day, ready for another exhibit later on that same week.

Upon seeing our client’s sculpture – the three porcelain cans – the cleaner mistook them for some rubbish in need of clearing away, and promptly swept them into the bin.

How Brownhill had it covered

Thankfully, our client had taken out a specialist art policy with us at Brownhill. This meant that despite their sculpture being away from the site of their business, it was sufficiently covered for art fairs and exhibitions against such things as theft, damage, and loss.

 The cans were recovered but were slightly damaged, with some chips and imperfections found in the porcelain work after being retrieved. Insurers subsequently paid a total loss claim, meaning our client received around £5000 to cover the cost of damages and restoration.

Final conclusions

We hope this story shows you that insurance claims do sometimes arise in the form of freak accidents or highly unlikely circumstances as well as disasters, such as fires or floods.

Sometimes they come from split-second decisions and very understandable (but equally very costly) errors.

 It also goes to show the importance of having the right cover, to maintain the protection of your insurance policy even when your works are away from your gallery – at a fair, exhibition or some other form of event.

 You can learn about the right insurance for art fairs in exhibitions in one of our previous blogs.

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