Fine Art Insurance

Restoring Memories

Chubb's fine arts team takes pride in returning a treasured piece of art to a Philadelphia-area family.
By: | April 10, 2017 • 3 min read

The story begins with a man in New Jersey lining up a pool shot. He draws his cue back too far and punches a hole in a painting on his host’s wall.

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The pool shooter, one Robert Grant, owns up to his miscue by buying the painting from his friend. He pays between $50 and $100 for it; the passage of time has obscured the exact amount.

Turns out the painting is an original by Norman Rockwell, who produced more than 300 illustrations for the cover of the Saturday Evening Post back in the first half of the 20th Century.

This painting, one of Rockwell’s earlier works, depicted a farm boy catching a nap against a tree and went by the title “Taking a Break” among others.

The billiards blunder occurred back in the early 1950’s. In 1976, thieves broke into Robert Grant’s Cherry Hill, N.J. home and stole the painting.

Chubb Insurance wrote a policy on the painting though and paid off Robert Grant’s claim, for $15,000. Under the terms of the policy, the title on the painting transferred to the insurer when the claim was paid.

Fran O’Brien, division president, North American Risk Services, Chubb

Decades went by, give or take a few years.  One day, according to the New York Times, Robert Grant’s son John got an introduction to Robert Bazin, a retired FBI agent, who agreed to take up the search for the lost painting.

The elder Grant passed away in 2004. Besides missing their father, the Grant family evidently still felt the loss of a favorite family possession quite keenly.

Bazin contacted the FBI, which put out a press release in 2016, asking for information on the painting’s whereabouts. An art dealer who wishes to remain anonymous contacted the FBI and handed it over.

“The work was in the collection of a dealer who didn’t realize there was an issue with the provenance,” said Laura Doyle, an assistant vice president and North American Collections Management Specialist with Chubb.

“There are often occurrences where we can’t bring it back, but when we are able to, it is an important part of our service.” — Fran O’Brien, division president, North American Risk Services, Chubb

Doyle, a graduate of the University of Richmond, holds a certificate in fine arts appraisal from NYU.

According to Fran O’Brien, division president, North American Risk Services for Chubb, there was a clause in Grant’s insurance policy that allowed for the title for the painting to revert to the Grant family if they agreed to pay back the $15,000 they got for the original claim.

Laura Doyle, assistant vice president and North American Collections Management Specialist, Chubb

Done deal; and so it came to pass that the Grant family reclaimed a painting, once purchased for less than $100 and now worth possibly as much as $1 million.

Chubb in turn, donated the $15,000 to the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Mass.

It’s a great story, and Chubb’s O’Brien said there are some good lessons to be taken from it.

Owners of art collections should consider insuring them with a valuable articles policy, rather than relying on their home owner’s policy, she said.

“Even with modest collections, they should be thinking about a valuable articles policy, whether it’s hundreds of millions or $100,000, it’s important to know that there is a better solution out there,” O’Brien said.

A good fine arts policy solution also includes support from fine arts specialists who can give advice on the safest way to store and display valuable art works.

Keeping a Modigliani above the dining room table might make the owner warm and proud, but probably isn’t the best idea, particularly if it can be seen from the street.

That protection can be as specific as an individual asset alarm for particularly valued pieces. Insurer support can also include advice on confirming the chain of title ownership for a piece that has changed hands a number of times.

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“We advise that collectors request information on provenance, which would detail any prior owners and art galleries or auction houses where the work was sold,” Doyle said.

This fine arts insurance story had a very happy ending, because the Grant family got the painting back. But it often happens that treasured pieces of jewelry or art are never seen again.

“Part of our business is to restore memories,” said Chubb’s O’Brien.

“There are often occurrences where we can’t bring it back, but when we are able to it is an important part of our service,” O’Brien said.

Dan Reynolds is editor-in-chief of Risk & Insurance. He can be reached at [email protected]

More from Risk & Insurance

More from Risk & Insurance

2017 RIMS

Cyber Threat Will Get More Difficult

Companies should focus on response, resiliency and recovery when it comes to cyber risks.
By: | April 19, 2017 • 2 min read
Topics: Cyber Risks | RIMS

“The sky is not falling” when it comes to cyber security, but the threat is a growing challenge for companies.

“I am not a cyber apocalyptic kind of guy,” said Gen. Michael Hayden, former head of the Central Intelligence Agency and National Security Agency, who currently is a principal at the Chertoff Group, a security consultancy.

Gen. Michael Hayden, former head of the CIA and NSA, and principal, The Chertoff Group

“There are lots of things to worry about in the cyber domain and you don’t have to be apocalyptic to be concerned,” said Hayden prior to his presentation at a Global Risk Forum sponsored by Lockton on Sunday afternoon on the geopolitical threats facing the United States.

“We have only begun to consider the threat as it currently exists in the cyber domain.”

Hayden said cyber risk is equal to the threat times your vulnerability to the threat, times the consequences of a successful attack.

At present, companies are focusing on the vulnerability aspect, and responding by building “high walls and deep moats” to keep attackers out, he said. If you do that successfully, it will prevent 80 percent of the attackers.

“It’s all about making yourself a tougher target than the next like target,” he said.

But that still leaves 20 percent vulnerability, so companies need to focus on the consequences: It’s about response, resiliency and recovery, he said.

The range of attackers is vast, including nations that have used cyber attacks to disrupt Sony (the North Koreans angry about a movie), the Sands Casino (Iranians angry about the owner’s comments about their country), and U.S. banks (Iranians seeking to disrupt iconic U.S. institutions after the Stuxnet attack on their nuclear program), he said.

“You don’t have to offend anybody to be a target,” he said. “It may be enough to be iconic.”

The world order that has existed for the past 75 years “is melting away” and the world is less stable.

And no matter how much private companies do, it may not be enough.

“The big questions in cyber now are law and policy,” Hayden said. “We have not yet decided as a people what we want or will allow our government to do to keep us safe in the cyber domain.”

The U.S. government defends the country’s land, sea and air, but when it comes to cyber, defenses have been mostly left to private enterprises, he said.

“I don’t know that we have quite decided the balance between the government’s role and the private sector’s role,” he said.

As for the government’s role in the geopolitical challenges facing it, Hayden said he has seen times that were more dangerous, but never more complicated.

The world order that has existed for the past 75 years “is melting away” and the world is less stable, he said.

Nations such as North Korea, Iran, Russia and Pakistan are “ambitious, brittle and nuclear.” The Islamic world is in a clash between secular and religious governance, and China, which he said is “competitive and occasionally confrontational” is facing its own demographic and economic challenges.

“It’s going to be a tough century,” Hayden said.

Anne Freedman is managing editor of Risk & Insurance. She can be reached at [email protected]