Tuesday 14 April 2015

Title Insurance for Ancient Art

Daniel Grant, 'Art Collectors Weigh Title Insurance. Protection Is Often Recommended, but Most Collectors Aren’t Buying It', Wall Street Journal, April 12, 2015

When you buy a piece of art, can you be sure it’s really yours? Many collectors don’t always feel certain on that score. They worry in some cases that after they make a purchase someone will show up, maybe years later, and claim the art was stolen at some point in the past—ultimately leaving the new owner empty-handed, without the art or the money paid for it. That’s one reason many art advisers and lawyers recommend title insurance, which can at least partially protect a collector’s financial interests if a piece of art has to be surrendered.  [...] some insurance companies offer “defense of title” coverage, which typically pays up to $100,000 in legal costs in the event of a title dispute but doesn’t reimburse policyholders for the value of any objects taken away from them. 
One quote for the premium for a painting or similar art piece is a one-time payment of 2-3% of the purchase price. It is not stated whether the amount and quality of the collecting history held affects that. I wonder though what the premium would be for antiquities bought no-questions-asked? But then if it's a case of 'they-can't-touch-you-for-it legitimacy', I guess it makes no difference what documentation there is, or is lacking.


David Knell said...

"But then if it's a case of 'they-can't-touch-you-for-it legitimacy', I guess it makes no difference what documentation there is, or is lacking."

Precisely. In the case of antiquities, such insurance would rather kill the whole idea of having to act responsibly in the first place. Not good.

Paul Barford said...

but worth discussing the implications. Suppose for example (as in Germany next year) the law changes, that one-off payment idea starts to look a bit dodgy on those grounds.

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