Fears other groups could join the attacks
Some insurers only cover features behind the glass.
Inflation will also increase premiums
The risk of flood and fire damage has increased the pressure
By Carolyn Cohn, Noor Zainab Hussain and Barbara Lewis
LONDON, November 25 (Reuters) – Attacks by climate activists on some of the world’s most valuable paintings have fueled insurers’ concerns about the threat posed to art by climate change, fears that are taking the form of higher art insurance premiums.
In recent weeks, activists have drawn attention to the causes of climate change by pouring tomato soup over Vincent van Gogh’s “Sunflowers” at the National Gallery in London and a black liquid over Gustav Klimt’s “Death and Life” at the Leopold Museum in Vienna. use of fossil fuels.
The paintings were behind glass or a screen, and a spokesman for the National Gallery said the sunflower’s frame had only “minor damage”.
The Leopold Museum said Klimt was not damaged but did not respond to a request for further comment.
However, many in the art and insurance world say it could only be a matter of time before artworks are destroyed, especially if the protests spread beyond climate activism.
Nearly 100 galleries, including New York’s Guggenheim and Paris’ Louvre, issued a statement earlier this month saying activists “grossly underestimate the fragility of these irreplaceable objects.”
“Right now it’s just climate activists, mostly middle-class, with no real intention of harming labor,” said Robert Reed, head of arts and personal at insurer Hiscox.
“We are concerned if this spreads to other protest groups that are less civilized and have a less caring attitude.”
Even if the art isn’t directly damaged, the cost of cleaning a frame, repairing it and reinserting an image can reach thousands of dollars, says Filippo, head of fine art at brokerage Howden. said Guerini Maraldi.
the story goes on
“The risk profile has now changed. Insurers may say, “I need some more money next year” and “What are you doing to protect?”.
“We have already received several requests from customers who may have pieces in museums and are asking for them to be taken away.”
The fine art insurance market generates approximately $750 million in premiums worldwide. Premium rates are projected to rise about 5% in 2020 and 2021 and remain flat this year, but insurers expect them to rise.
pressure on the premium
The amount of damage and the availability of insurance determine the insurance premium.
Despite climate protests, increasing fires and floods linked to global warming have prompted activism that is likely to drive insurance premiums higher over the next year, insurers and brokers said.
Inflation also increases the pressure on the premium.
Jennifer Schiff, global chief underwriting officer for art and exclusivity at AXA XL, said she expects reinsurers – who underwrite insurers – to increase prices during the January 1 extension period, which could impact the art market. Is.
Insurers and brokers say there have been no claims from the attacks so far. A spokesman for the gallery said it was not clear how the Leopold Museum had acted, but that the UK government was at risk for the National Gallery’s permanent collection.
Large museums often rely on governments to provide financial protection in the event of damage, rather than commercial insurance.
However, commercial museums and galleries do purchase art insurance, and its use is even more widespread in major museums in the United States than in Europe.
The premium they pay has remained stable in part because terrorist attacks and broader concerns about violence had already tightened security in recent years, more work behind glass, and increased numbers of security guards and bag searches.
In some cases, commercial insurers have also become more cautious, with one insurer, who asked not to be named, saying it only insures artefacts behind glass.
While five insurers contacted by Reuters said they are not yet required to factor climate strikes into premiums, some artists say they are already facing increased costs.
Thomas Hampel, agent for German artist Antoinette, said insurance premiums to cover her art would rise 12.5% over the next year, compared with 3% to 5% over the previous three years.
Additionally, shipping and installing 100 square meters of anti-reflective glass to safely display a large work of art would cost an additional 35,000 euros ($36,417).
“We cannot afford these additional costs,” said Hampel.
Adam Prideaux, chief executive of art insurance broker Hallett Independent, said the attacks could also affect state compensation – the state insurance that covers major galleries when they show art that doesn’t belong to them.
Arts Council England, which provides such compensation, said in emailed comments that it could not provide details on individual claims, but said “only a small number of minor claims have been made over the past decade”. . . ($1 = 0.9611 euros)
(Reporting by Caroline Cohn and Barbara Lewis in London and Noor Zainab Hussain in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Crispian Balmer in Rome; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)