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 Risk All Stars

Immeasurable Value

The 2017 Risk All Stars strengthened their organizations by taking ownership of improved risk management processes and not quitting until they were in place.
By: | September 12, 2017 • 3 min read

Being the only person to hold a particular opinion or point of view within an organization cannot be easy. Do the following sound like familiar stories? Can you picture yourself or one of your risk management colleagues as the hero or heroine? Or better yet, as a Risk & Insurance® Risk All Star?

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One risk manager took a job with a company that was being spun off, and the risk management program, which was built for a much larger company, was not a good fit for the spun-off company.
Rather than sink into inertia, this risk manager took the bull by the horns and began an aggressive company intranet campaign to instill better safety and other risk management practices throughout the organization.

The risk manager, 2017 Risk All Star Michelle Bennett of Cable One, also changed some long-standing brokerage relationships that weren’t a good fit for the risk management and insurance program. In her first year on the job she produced premium savings and in her second year is in the process of introducing ERM company-wide.

Or perhaps this one rings a bell. The news is trickling out that a company is poised to dramatically expand, increasing the workforce three- or four-fold. Having this knowledge with certainty would be a great benefit to a risk manager, who could begin girding safety, workers’ comp and related programs accordingly. But things sometimes don’t work that way, do they? Sometimes the risk manager is one of the last people to know.

The Risk All Star Award recognizes at its core, creativity, perseverance and passion. The 13 winners of this year’s award all displayed those traits in abundance.

In the case of 2017 Risk All Star winner Steve Richards of the Coca-Cola Bottling Company, the news of an expansion spurred him to action. He completely overhauled the company’s workers’ compensation program and streamlined its claim management system. The results, even with a much higher headcount, were reduced legal costs, better return-to-work experiences for injured workers and a host of other improvements and savings.

The Risk All Star Award recognizes at its core, creativity, perseverance and passion. The 13 winners of this year’s award all displayed those traits in abundance. Sometimes it took years for a particular risk solution, as promoted by a risk manager, to find acceptance.

In other cases a risk manager got so excited about a solution, they never even considered getting turned down. They just kept pushing until they carried the day.

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Butler University’s Zach Finn became obsessive about what he felt was a lackluster effort on the part of the insurance industry to bring in new talent. The former risk manager for the J.M. Smucker Co. settled on the creation of a student-run captive to give his risk management students the experience they would need to get hired right out of college.

The result was a better risk management program for the university’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and immediate traction in the job market for Finn’s students.

A few of our Risk All Stars told us that the results they are achieving were decades in the making. Only by year-in, year-out dedication to gaining transparency about her co-op’s risks and learning more and more about her various insurance carriers, did Growmark Inc.’s Faith Cring create a stalwart risk management and insurance program that is the envy of the agricultural sector. Now she’s been with some of her insurance carriers more than 20 years — some more than 30 years.

Having the right idea and not having a home for it can be a lonely, frustrating experience. Having the creativity, the passion and perhaps, most importantly, the perseverance to see it through and get great results makes you a Risk All Star. &

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Risk All Stars stand out from their peers by overcoming challenges through exceptional problem solving, creativity, perseverance and passion.

See the complete list of 2017 Risk All Stars.

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