Value in Hiring a Conservator

September 19, 2011

There are several ways a conservator can assist claim adjusters in evaluating fine art and collectible losses. Becker points out that conservators can do the following:

  • Identify pre- versus post-loss damages;
  • Identify condition history;
  • Identify previous alterations to a work of art;
  • Identify what can be restored;
  • Identify inherent vice (Becker defines this as when something is made a certain way, it inherently will have problems that may age the piece faster, because of the way in which it was made);
  • Identify living artists’ rights;
  • Identify triage options that can minimize claim costs;
  • Identify mediums and materials; and
  • Identify potentials for betterment.

However, it’s important to note that conservators are not appraisers or authenticators.

“Authenticators authenticate that it’s by a certain artist, and appraisers identify the value of the piece. Conservators should not be involved in either, because it’s considered a conflict of interest. But the one thing a conservator can tell you is, technically identifying the medium of the piece,” Becker says.

The medium refers to the materials used to make the piece. A common issue arises when an owner thinks they know what they have when it may be a reproduction.

“It could be a piece that was falsely created and replicated by another artist,” says Becker.

Because of the confusion regarding identification, one of the first things a conservator will do when an item arrives in the laboratory is look at it closely. This examination includes the front, back, sides and all of the materials. Using a microscope and a black light, they can help determine the medium, materials and artist’s techniques.

From This Issue

Insurance Journal West September 19, 2011
September 19, 2011
Insurance Journal West Magazine

Professional Liability Directory, The Best Insurance Agencies to Work For, Employment/HR Issue

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