"Based on the Visual Artists Rights Act (VARA) of 1990, living artists should be consulted before any restoration begins on their works," said Laura Murphy Doyle, a fine art specialist at Chubb Personal Insurance who authored the paper. "Failing to do so could prompt an artist to unnecessarily denounce a work, essentially rendering it worthless."
In such a case, Doyle explained that an insured work would be considered a total loss, and an insurer would require that it be destroyed or donated to an organization for conservation research, so that it doesn't resurface on the art market.
"Although insurance may help reimburse the insured for the loss, most collectors would prefer to continue to enjoy owning and displaying the work, not to mention retaining it for potential future appreciation," said Doyle.
According to the white paper, unless artists waived their VARA rights prior to damage, they can elect to:
- Perform a restoration themselves or in collaboration with a conservator;
- Approve the treatment plan and allow conservators to perform the entire restoration; or
- Denounce the work if it has been distorted, mutilated or modified to the extent that they no longer view it as their original piece.
"In the vast majority of cases where an artwork is damaged, the artist is willing to be involved—actively or as consultant—in the conservation," the paper concludes. But in some cases, artists "have disclaimed authorship of a piece due to relatively minor damage."
The paper also notes that since VARA only covers works of visual art, including paintings, sculpture, drawings, prints, and certain still photographs, its application to new media is unclear. This category of art includes works created using digital technology, computer graphics and animation, video, robotics, 3-D printing and biotechnology. VARA, as is the case with most insurance, also does not apply to artwork incorporating ephemeral materials, such as insects, leaves and other organic matter, that naturally deteriorate over time.
Both new media, based on technologies that rapidly can become obsolete, and ephemeral materials are creating challenges for conservators. "It becomes more important to involve the artist in such a work's preservation," the paper states.
"Conservation of the Works of Living Artists" is available at:
Doyle is a member of Chubb's Fine Art Practice, which brings together the insurer's worldwide fine art resources in underwriting, loss prevention and claims. The practice's 20 fine art specialists respond to the evolving needs of personal insurance clients with valuable collections. With academic degrees and other training in art, they are able to help clients assess and manage risks to works in homes, offices, galleries, art warehouses and other locations.
Chubb has long been a leading provider of insurance for private collectors of art, antiques, jewelry and other valuable possessions. Chubb's Masterpiece® Valuable Articles policy provides worldwide coverage for fine art and antiques, jewelry, furs, silverware, musical instruments, stamps, coins and other collectibles. The policy includes coverage for breakage, mysterious disappearance and newly acquired items, as well as inflation protection.
Since 1882, members of the Chubb Group of Insurance Companies have provided property and casualty insurance products to customers around the globe. These products are offered through a worldwide network of independent agents and brokers. The Chubb Group of Insurance Companies is known for financial strength, underwriting and loss-control expertise, tailoring products for the needs of high-net-worth individuals and commercial customers in niche markets and select industry segments, and outstanding claim service.
The Chubb Group of Insurance Companies is the marketing term used to describe several separately incorporated insurance companies under the common ownership of The Chubb Corporation. The Chubb Corporation is listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE: CB) and, together with its subsidiaries, employs approximately 10,000 people throughout North America, Europe, Latin America, Asia and Australia. For more information regarding The Chubb Corporation, including a listing of the insurers in the Chubb Group of Insurance Companies, visit www.chubb.com.
Contact: Mark Schussel
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SOURCE Chubb Group of Insurance Companies
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