NEWS & EVENTS
Elizabeth von Habsburg, Managing Director of Winston Art Group, notes that “with the ever-increasing value of fine art, jewelry, wine and other personal property, a multi-pronged approach of active collection management, including yearly updated appraisals, condition checks, and implementations of insurance to value, will ensure that the value of the collection is not only maintained, but increased over time.”
FINE AND DECORATIVE ART
Hurricane season has wreaked havoc on art collections along the East Coast and in the Gulf over the last decade. In the NewYork metro area the repercussions of Superstorm Sandy (October 2012) are still felt, as art advisors, conservators and insurance specialists continue to help clients whose collections experienced unprecedented levels of damage. Fine art is especially sensitive to climate conditions, and anything from a large-scale contemporary plexi-mounted cibachrome printed photograph, to an 18th-century pastel or a mid-20th-century mixed media on canvas, can be affected by drastic shifts in temperature, humidity, and any sustained contact with water. Furniture is also extremely susceptible to changes in humidity and temperature.
Best practice for art storage is in a climate controlled and secure environment. Professional framing and glazing provide an initial layer of protection, but additional measures need to be taken before art is moved from one location to another. While in transit, art should be packaged and crated by professionals, and shipped in a climate-controlled vehicle if possible. When fine art is displayed, location and method of hanging are to be carefully considered. Art should always be hung by handling specialists, and collection managers can advise on appropriate locations in the property in order to avoid the damaging effects of sunlight or other risk factors. Annual inventory and condition inspections can help to ensure that collections of fine and decorative art remain intact and in suitable environments. This can be an especially helpful tool when collections are dispersed among multiple residences and storage locations. Pairs of decorative works, such as vases or figurines, can often have a higher value than the sum of their parts, and so if a pair is separated the value can decrease dramatically.
In general, jewelry is not susceptible to climate changes and harsh conditions. However, regular wear and use often leads to loss or damage. Therefore it is important to routinely check that all settings and prongs are secure, and to make sure that all clasps and locking mechanisms are in good working order. Further, due to its small scale and portability, jewelry is most at jeopardy while in transit. Should your jewelry collections need to be shipped, be sure to hire bonded and insured professional handlers. A collection manager or advisor can facilitate the move to ensure proper precautions are taken. While in storage, jewelry should be kept in a home safe to protect from flood and fire damage, or stored in a safety deposit box at your local bank.
Wine collections are especially sensitive to humidity levels and should be monitored carefully. Brian Ward, founding director of Wine Advise (www.wineadvise.com), says “collectors often neglect to arrange for proper storage conditions, which is the most important factor to consider for the long term health of the wine.” The collection should be kept in a cellar, or a comparable controlled and insulated environment, and humidity should be at 65 percent to keep the cork moist and prevent oxygen exposure. Additionally, maintaining a temperature of 55 degrees Fahrenheit will help the wine age properly.
To protect the value of these special collections, conditions should be checked on an annual basis, insurance appraisals should be reviewed each year to ensure proper coverage, and collection managers should be consulted to make sure that the most up-to-date security and environmental protections are in place. If a collection is stored or displayed in an at-risk location, a collection manager can assist in proactively creating a disaster preparedness plan that outlines the appropriate measures and professional contacts for the safe packing and transfer of valuables to a secure site away from immediate or forecasted harm. Additionally, collection management systems help maintain essential information about a collection and keep track of changes in condition and location over time. Further, the digital preservation of appraisal values, cataloguing, provenance and images in a collection management system provide important historical and visual records in the event of any loss or damage. These small but vital proactive measures should be implemented, in order to minimize risks and maintain and maximize a collection’s value.