Fine Art Restoration Advice

When it comes to fine art restoration, insurance tends to be a routine and straightforward matter. But what happens when an art gallery requires building cleaning and maintenance that results in damage? Well, thanks to a Picasso painting, a small business contractor, and tens of millions in damages that led to costly fine art restoration, there is a cautionary tale about insurance negligence that tells the ultimate narrative.

A Picasso Painting, Contractor Damage, & Fine Art Restoration

This saga starts in 2006 when Stephen Wynn, the owner of the 1932 Pablo Picasso Le Rêve, decided to sell it for $139 million. Wynn accidentally damaged it by poking a hole in it, which required $90,000 in fine art restoration services. The insurance company, Lloyd’s of London, had to settle the insurance claim even though the client damaged the painting as it had devalued by 54 million US dollars after it was restored.

After its restoration, Wynn canceled its sale, which brings us to the year 2013 when he sold it to Steven Cohen for $155 million (yes, $16 million more than its original market valuation before the damage). Wynn had a 2nd Picasso worth $100 million, Le Marin, but this time there was a twist that set the industry’s tongue’s wagging in 2018 as a painting and wallpaper firm hired by Christie’s accidentally put a hole in it.

How An Insurer Paid Out Millions and Sued a Contractor for The Damage

So, who was to blame: Christi’s auction house, Le Marin’s owner, the painting contractor, Wynn’s insurer, or auction house’s insurance company? Well, it turns out even Picasso couldn’t have brushed this debacle as Christie’s insurer paid Wynn’s insurer $487,625 to cover the fine art restoration necessary as well as another $18,250,000 for its current market devaluation and the attorney’s fees totaling $18,750,000.

Like all the classics, this saga does not end there as Christie’s insurer, Steadfast Insurance, reimbursed Christie’s for its losses and wanted to recoup its losses by going after a more modern painter: T.F. Nugent. Steadfast sued the painting firm what it legally termed as severe damage due to a contracted worker’s negligence and carelessness using a paint roller extension, who was ultimately held liable for the $18,750,000.

How Manzi Educates Art Galleries & Small Businesses On Fine Art Handling

So, what is the lesson to be learned? While insurance is critical, it is the knowledge that workers have when performing tasks around priceless artifacts that matter the most. As a fine art restoration expert, Manzi has helped both art galleries and small business owners such as painters, carpenters, and cleaners avoid such a tale as this where history repeats itself with costly errors.

While art galleries attain the proper insurance, it is also important to understand that a small business cannot possibly carry the type of coverage to protect artwork worth tens of millions.  After the Picasso fiasco, industry experts advised contractors to create contracts that included insurance minimums that limit the amount of liability, but we also recommend training as a wise solution.

As art galleries tend to pair artwork, it is not unheard of to lay works against the wall when making such decisions. This is when it is imperative when workers are present to secure them. This is where our experts will be a great help as we routinely teach gallery workers and contractors how to protect historically important assets while also taking care of the areas that house them.

To learn more about how our fine art restoration experts at Manzi will help you with properly training your staff, setting up alternative options for safe housing or transporting of artwork when contractors are present, or providing lessons on how art restoration affect paintings, please call our office at 617-948-2577 or visit us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ManziAppraisers/.