Tuesday, November 30, 2010

"Lost for ever, works that art became symbols of success," by Lorne Spicer,

October 14, 2001, The Mail on Sunday (London, England) , "Lost for ever, works that art became symbols of success," by Lorne Spicer,

THE art world is still counting the cost of the attacks on the World Trade Centre.

Just how many precious works were lost may never be known, but claims are likely to run into tens of millions of dollars.

Among the pieces believed destroyed are a tapestry by the Spanish surrealist Miro, a giant mobile by American modernist Alexander Calder and a painting by the pop artist Roy Lichtenstein. Cantor Fitzgerald, the company that lost so many workers, was famed for its collection of 450 Rodin sculptures. The collection was the biggest outside the Musee Rodin in Paris and many pieces were lost.

Axa Art, one of the biggest fine art underwriters, has set aside $20 million ([pound]13.5 million) for claims. However, this should be seen in context against big claims it has faced in the past decade, such as a Titian painting worth millions that was stolen from Longleat in 1995, and two Turners valued at [pound]24 million stolen in Germany.

David Scully, underwriting manager for its London arm, says art collections were symbols of success for firms at the Trade Centre and when the complex was planned, one per cent of the building cost was set aside by the owner, the New York and New Jersey Port Authority, for public art.

Scully says: 'At the time of building, corporations prided themselves on massive collections, but many have been sold to maximise investor value.'

While the New York attacks will result in the biggest overall insurance claim ever, companies such as Axa Art are financially secure, thanks to the reinsurance market. Scully says: 'This market is where we will see consolidation and prices rise to reflect the reassessment of the risk involved. The attacks will probably only accentuate the trend to higher premiums.' Until now, losses of works of art have resulted from theft rather than terrorism, but the attacks will have a big effect on art insurance.

Scully says: 'One of the most important Van Gogh exhibitions ever staged is taking place in Chicago, involving the transfer of important works across the world.

'If the exhibits had been on any of the planes that crashed, the losses would have run into billions of pounds. So it makes sense that many insurers covering such events expect exhibits to be transported on separate planes.'

Art sales have already been affected by the attacks. London auctioneers report that the mid-priced art market has seen a fall in demand. Many top dealers in Paris still hold uncollected items that were sold to Americans before September 11. Whether the sales will be completed is unclear.

ANTIQUES exporters and importers have also been affected. The headquarters of the US Customs Service was in the World Trade Centre and all paperwork has been lost.

Temporary offices are struggling to cope with containers still arriving in America and others that should have been shipped out. And 40 per cent of dealers who had booked shipping facilities ahead of next month's Winter Olympia Fine Art & Antiques Fair in London are reported to have canceled.

One work has shot to iconic status as symbolising the art market's current raw emotions - a sculpture by J. Seward Johnson Jr of a businessman peering inside his briefcase, entitled Double Check. The work, which was on display outdoors near the Trade Centre, has been much photographed covered in dust, virtually indistinguishable from survivors of the attack.

Axa Art, 020 7626 5001, www.axa insurance.co.uk

Spicer, Lorne. "Lost for ever, works that art became symbols of success; COLLECTING." The Mail on Sunday (London, England). 2001. HighBeam Research. (October 3, 2010). http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-79175685.html

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