Friday, June 9, 2023

Should Art Authenticators Get Insurance?

Ronald Spencer discusses insurance as protection for art experts in the most recent issue of Spencer’s Art Law Journal, published on artnet news.  As experts increasingly face the risk of expensive litigation when offering opinions on the authenticity of artworks, and therefore are reluctant to give firm authentication statements, insurance may offset this risk and encourage experts to render opinions. Professional liability insurance for art experts, now offered by the College Art Association,  often includes coverage for attorney’s fees, which can amount to a significant burden for solo authenticators and independent art scholars in a legal dispute.

However, insurers have found art authentication activities challenging to assess.  The subjective and complex visual perceptions which often form the basis for an authentication opinion do not neatly conform to the standards used by insurance underwriters to evaluate risk.  Insurers usually require formal, standardized procedures: each expert’s methods should be reviewed and recorded, and the expert must follow these methods as a condition of coverage, though general descriptions of the basis of an opinion often suffice.

The umbrella term for this type of coverage also fails to fit this type of service. Insurers use the technical definition of “professional services” as work performed for a fee, but the fee charged for an authentication opinion rarely reflects liability risk. In response, Spencer proposes that experts charge a fee, even if nominal, and include the cost of the insurance in the fee.

More via artnet news.


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