The Right Words
A great broker is not only well-versed in finding the right insurance but can also eloquently explain various coverages and solutions to clients outside the field — no easy task, to be sure.
Such is the case of Kristina Marcigliano.
“Kristina makes the complicated world of insurance easy to understand when she explains it to us lay people,” said Juan Angulo, controller, Bunny Williams Inc., an interior design company.
Earlier this year, Marcigliano sat down with Angulo to review the company’s insurance policies. She pointed out where they had gaps, where they could increase limits and answered questions as they arose.
Gerald Peters Gallery’s registrar Lindsey Lutz, who usually handles the gallery’s renewal process, was out of the office during renewal time this year. One of her colleagues stepped in — but she didn’t typically work with insurance and the jargon that comes with it.
“Kristina walked my colleague through it and was extremely helpful and informative during the entire process,” Lutz said.
In another instance, another one of Marcigliano’s clients decided to begin a site renovation, turning its studio area into a place for art exhibitions.
“Kristina is there to see if there are any flags that come up that might impact our fine arts insurance,” said Susan Reynolds, director, The Milton Resnick and Pat Passlof Foundation. Her guidance provides peace of mind in the high-value world of fine art.
A Good Teacher Keeps Learning
Mary Pontillo, DeWitt Stern’s national fine art practice leader, places value in educating her clients on the different types of insurance coverages available to them.
The Joan Mitchell Foundation was debating whether it should change its collection’s storage to a different facility. Pontillo listed the pros and cons of the possible move and was “proactive around brainstorming,” said Christa Blatchford, the foundation’s CEO.
Pontillo also took the time to build a loan and insurance rubric for the foundation, keeping the registrar, executive director, board members and lawyers on the same page during the art lending process.
“It makes the insurance conversation front-end instead of after the fact,” said Blatchford.
And like all good teachers, Pontillo never stops learning: “I was with her at a registrars’ conference,” said Thomas Burns, chief operating officer, The Fortress, which provides storage and transportation for fine art in Boston, Miami and New York. “Mary went to every possible session she could to learn as much as she could.”
One artist who was a client of The Fortress passed away last year, and his children needed to store his work. Burns planned the entire move, but the day before, he found that the family didn’t have insurance for transportation. He called Pontillo.
“Mary didn’t worry about what they didn’t do or what they didn’t have; she focused on the positives,” got the right insurance and had the art transported as planned, he said.
A Passion for Art
“Adrienne Reid has a genuine interest in the pieces we have,” said Anne Breckenridge Barrett, director of collections and exhibitions, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago.
It’s this dedication that convinced the museum to switch to Reid from their previous broker.
And this year, it proved to be the right choice. The museum held a 50-year anniversary celebration while also hosting a temporary Takashi Murakami exhibition at the same time. They had on display some of their most valuable pieces, including an original Andy Warhol.
To have both exhibitions under one roof, the museum needed to increase its policy limits and temporary policy limits. Reid got to work and kept the museum well under budget, negotiating lower premium rates with the underwriter.
Ricardo Mazal, artist and owner of Ricardo Mazal Inc., had an exhibit in Mexico City. To cross the border, customs agents had to inspect the truck first, which meant they would need to handle the art and repackage it.
“Because of the logistics of the customs agents, it was a short time to work,” Mazal said.
Altogether, $1 million worth of paintings were handled and transported over the border. Few underwriters wanted to cover this high-risk load as it traveled through Mexico.
But Reid persevered.
“Adrienne [was] incredibly helpful; [she] was 24/7. At the end, she was able to have everything in place for us. I can count on her wherever I am with whatever we have.”
Queen of Conservation
To prevent artwork from showing signs of the wear-and-tear of age, art conservationists take the lead in preserving and maintaining these valuable relics from the past.
And behind these conservators is Ever Song.
“I have been working with Ever for many years and couldn’t run my business without her,” said Leslie Gat, president and founder, the Art Conservation Group/Ransick Gat Fine Art Services Inc.
In 2016, she had several large projects moving in and out of the studio, which needed anywhere from $1 million to $3 million in waiver or policy coverage at different moments.
“Ever got me to bump up to half a million dollars in cost of coverage,” said Gat. “She lessened the stress and the cost didn’t go up as much as I thought it would.”
Deborah La Camera and Lorraine Bigrigg, both partners and senior conservators at Studio TKM Associates Inc., run a paper conservation studio where clients often need art procured and stored on the same day.
For instance, a collector of high-value drawings had a water issue in their storage facility and needed the art picked up and brought to the studio immediately. La Camera and Bigrigg called Song, who had to get the coverage in place while the art was transferred and stored at the studio.
“Ever streamlined the process and writes each contract to custom fit that art’s needs as well, showing clients their coverage is custom to their needs,” said La Camera.
Front and Center
Emily Weiss likes the hands-on approach to insuring art.
When one of her clients needed to store artwork in its basement, Weiss visited with an underwriter to assess the area and any risks it posed to the safety of the pieces, and to come up with some risk mitigation strategies.
The policy in place had a basement flood exclusion, so Weiss suggested where to add water sensors and advised the client how to respond to a flood event. She also got them flood insurance, going above and beyond to secure them additional coverages for tidal waves or drain backups.
After Superstorm Sandy hit the East Coast, new insurance regulations regarding flood, wind and storm surge were implemented. Weiss’s client, Vito Schnabel Projects, wanted to review these regulations and work towards finding the best plan possible for their needs. Weiss took the reins.
“Emily’s consultations have expanded my understanding of insurance procedures and requirements, which in turn has significantly improved our company’s coverage,” said Jenna Schneider, registrar.
She noted that, as she works with so many vendors daily, “Emily’s advice and prompt turnaround of information have allowed me to provide the best coverage to our vendors.”
“Everything she does is hands on,” said Edward Mishan, a private art dealer who sells around the world. “She’s efficient. She knows all the details.”
The last call a museum registrar wants to receive is that a drunk driver ran into an outdoor sculpture.
Leah Reeder, registrar, Fort Wayne Museum of Art, unfortunately received that call, learning that a truck was wedged underneath an outdoor piece. Emergency officials were able to pull the truck out, but the sculpture collapsed.
Casey Wigglesworth was immediately brought on board.
“The sculpture was dismantled and sent to California for a little over a year for restoration,” said Reeder. “Casey took the time to work with me to get the piece back to us.”
Now the large sculpture sits in its Indiana home once again.
Another client, Michelle Moskal, assistant registrar, Museum of the American Revolution, detailed a recent move of facilities.
“We couldn’t transport everything all at once,” said Moskal. Their insurance covered up to a certain amount during transport, so Wigglesworth worked out what could be sent via truck together.
“We’re in the midst of an active construction site while remaining operational,” said Mark Ryan, assistant director for collections & exhibitions, the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum.
He said Wigglesworth provided critical insight into how to store art and keep staff and visitors safe during construction, communicating with the university and museum partners and providing information to their underwriters while the museum remained in operation.