Expert Stamp of Approval
Sandra Berlin is known for her vast knowledge of fine arts insurance and her high energy.
In the past year alone Berlin helped negotiate insurance for about 45 different loans of artwork to museums so the individual collectors had the best coverage possible while the pieces were out of their control.
Analyzing individual museum policies is an important component of loaning and making sure a collector’s own carrier is aware that this change in exposure is prudent.
“In Chicago, Sandra has the reputation of being if not the most knowledgeable art broker, then one of the top two or three specializing in art insurance,” observed Scott Hodes, senior counsel at Bryan Cave law firm in Chicago and a fine art expert.
Chicago-based Lela Hersh, art adviser at her own Museum and Fine Arts Consulting LLC, observed that since forming her own company in 2003 she has referred many of her private and corporate clients to Berlin.
“She is always available, friendly and makes difficult information crystal clear for clients,” said Hersh.
“She’s not pushy at all and has a nice way of working with her high-end clientele.”
Recently Hersh referred a private client to Berlin who is moving their home and artwork to Colorado.
“I can trust that she will take care of them,” Hersh said.
Clients of Sarah Johnson Court invariably cite her trustworthiness as the cornerstone of a healthy relationship with her.
“She knows her product and she really tries to help her customers as opposed to selling insurance just to get a commission,” said Laurans A. Mendelson, chairman and chief executive officer of Hollywood, Fla.-based HEICO, an aerospace and electronics products manufacturer.
“I’ve had situations in which she’s told me her policy is really not as good as a competing policy, so she said she wouldn’t recommend that I take hers,” Mendelson added. “She builds up great credibility that way.”
Mendelson also noted that Johnson Court does an excellent job of fighting with the insurance company to get better rates.
Anthony Tamer, founder and co-CEO of Miami-based HIG Capital, a worldwide private equity firm, said of Johnson Court: “Sarah has helped me specifically in getting our art insured in Florida, which, because of the flood and tropical weather conditions, is an expensive place to insure art. She worked very hard to get quotes from several insurance companies and was creative in finding reliable coverage that ended up being close to 30 percent more extensive, yet at a lower cost than most other providers.
“Most importantly, Sarah inspires trust, which is critical in a broker-client relationship,” Tamer added.
The Team Leader
Whether you are a large or smaller client of Diane Jackson, you are going to get the keen, comprehensive attention for which she is widely known.
In the past year, Jackson put together a proposal to help the Detroit Institute of Art conduct an international exhibition of some of its most precious paintings, to appear on two continents.
“Diane put together an excellent proposal that allowed us to slightly increase in-transit limits for shipments, which allowed us to send fewer conveyances, saving our museum and the borrowers’ staff time and money,” said Kimberly Dziurman, director of registration at the museum.
On another call-to-action for Jackson, Erika Franek, registrar of exhibition and loans, art insurance and risk management,at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, suddenly found herself in a demanding position when her predecessor left with little notice.
“Diane was immediately on the phone with me, walking me through the details of the policy and helping me understand the nuances,” said Franek.
“She set up weekly phone calls for me as well. Those phone calls were essential to my first year as a risk manager.”
In addition to handling 75 accounts on her own, Jackson has seven senior-level brokers who report to her. These individuals handle the largest clients of Aon’s art division. When there are any issues on those accounts, Jackson is called upon to help resolve them.
Pacifying the Lenders
Lynn Marcin’s decades of experience in the fine arts insurance world came to bear in helping the Denver Art Museum open a very large “Wyeth: Andrew and Jamie in the Studio” exhibition last November with 40-plus vendors and complicated insurance arrangements incorporating federal indemnity coverage, special exhibition policies and the museum’s own blanket policy.
“One lender in particular had very specific and challenging insurance requirements outlined in their loan agreement,” said Sarah Cucinella-McDaniel, chief registrar at the museum. “Lynn spent nearly six months and dozens of emails working with us to understand the requests from this lender, negotiate terms and prepare the policy.”
Marcin smoothed over another testy loan negotiation for the Tacoma Art Museum involving insurance for a Georgia O’Keeffe exhibition.
“The for-profit organizer insisted on using his legal language for the certificates of insurance and endorsements,” said Rock Huska, chief curator of the museum. “His involvement included convoluted and, oftentimes, contradictory instructions outside our existing coverage. Lynn worked closely with our underwriters to approve his archaic language.”
At New York-based American Federation of Arts, registrar Elizabeth Abbarno noted, “In early 2015, we had sort of a snafu and Lynn was in constant contact with me. She really saved my bacon. She is a lovely person to work with.”
Anne Rappa stands out as an exceptionally creative problem solver, her clients agree.
“Anne was extremely helpful as part of us putting together a major defining exhibition we had: a huge, huge Picasso show we had worked on for several years,” said Catherine Davis, director of arts administration at The Pace Gallery in New York.
“There was a billion dollars’ worth of art from around the world we had to provide insurance for.
“We were afraid there would not be enough capacity in the market, but Anne worked it out for us,” Davis added.
“We had some issues with the wording of specific exclusions in our fine arts policy which seemed contradictory to me,” noted K.C. Mauer, chief financial officer of the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Arts in New York.
“Anne spent a lot of time reviewing the policy language with me and she made sure that these language issues were addressed to my satisfaction so that I, as a non-insurance expert, understood them,” Mauer added.
She also doesn’t sugar-coat things, which Mauer appreciates.
“Anne helped us renegotiate the terms of our fine arts policy so that we were insured for all occurrences that we tell consignors we are liable for,” said Christopher Reimann, director of finance at Chicago-based Leslie Hindman Auctioneers.
Riding to the Rescue
This past year was one in which Emily Weiss rode to the rescue on a number of major fronts.
In one case, Weiss took over the account of New York-based Di Donna Galleries LLC during a colleague’s maternity leave.
“She made a huge effort to update herself quickly on the many aspects of all of our different policies and she made the intricacies of our insurance policies easy to understand,” said business director Courtney Conway.
And when it came to renewing the galleries’ fine arts insurance policy in September, Weiss put together an insurance package with the galleries’ preferred underwriter that reduced the galleries’ premium by about 35 percent, said Conway.
In another important accomplishment, Weiss took over an artist’s studio account after it had been neglected for many years. When she took over the account there were locations and buildings missing, incorrect limits and subjectivities that were not appropriate given the nature of the business. Weiss amended the definition of property covered and valuation clauses so that they were more in line with the nature of the artist’s work.
At New York’s New Museum, registrar Derya Kovey counts on Weiss for various skills.
“The broker needs to be strong in both hard skills such as insurance knowledge, as well as soft skills like emotional intelligence, understanding the museum’s values, and knowing what is needed to keep the artists happy,” Kovey said.