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October 19, 2006

Lisa Hunter Interview Part 4....

Thanks, we never knew we had so many friends! Who would have guessed, since writing there was consideration to giving away the less expensive works in the MAO family art collection, our mailbox has been filled with emails from forgotten old and some new "Enterprising Friends" looking for handouts.  Well, thanks for all the dinner invites.. but, FYI.. these were meant as illustrative questions, just to provide helpful information from Lisa Hunter to the many art collecting readers....

MAO Question #5 :   So you've built an art collection which you are very proud of, it’s all on display or in storage in your home. Together it has a value way over the home owners insurance policy.  You can’t image a low-end home burglar ever stealing an art work… they’d probably take a TV or Buffy's jewelry first. So, do you need insurance? Is it a necessary evil… or a waste of money? What do most big collectors and institutions do? How much should this typically cost?

Lisa Hunter Answer : Why do you assume a “low-end home burglar” is the only person who’d steal your art? Have you never seen the movie Diary of a Mad Housewife, where an expensive objet d’art is pilfered at a Central Park West party by “Whats-his-name Who Won the Pulitzer Prize”?

The bigger risk, though, is damage. I used to live next door to the 72nd Street building that was hit by an airplane this week, so maybe I’m especially aware of fire right now. I also had a valuable oriental rug seriously damaged by a burst pipe once when I was on vacation – the rug stayed wet too long and started to rot. I think it’s nuts not to insure valuable art, but I admittedly have a very risk-averse personality.

Some people are comfortable with risk. A serious antiques collector I know doesn’t insure his furniture because, over enough years, the premiums would be higher than the replacement costs. Me, I’d be insane with worry if I owned an uninsured Townsend & Goddard. So I suppose the decision depends as much on personality as on actual costs. (Museums, however, are required to insure.)

The cost of specialized art insurance depends, of course, on what you own. If you’re concerned about high premiums, perhaps you could lend some of the art in storage to a museum or university, which would then be responsible for the insurance on those items.

Whatever you decide, be sure to keep precise records of your art collection, including photos of each piece. It’s a good idea to store this documentation somewhere other than were the art is, for obvious airplane-flying-into-building reasons.

And let me get on a soapbox here for a moment: If you’re fortunate enough to own important art, you have a moral obligation to preserve it for future generations. If it gets damaged, you need to shell out for top-quality restoration, whether insurance is reimbursing you or not. No cutting corners.

Okay. Now I’ll get down from my soapbox and go back to fantasizing that one of the photos you’re tired of and want to give away is Nan Goldin’s Trixie. (A girl can dream, can’t she?)

So Lisa..Thanks so much for all the great advice! Can't want to meet you at your NYC book signing.. The Intrepid Art Collector

Thursday, October 26
7:30 pm
Barnes & Noble
396 Avenue of the Americas at 8th Street (Greenwich Village)

And Sorry, But, If Dr. Quiz has anything to say about it, and she seems to always have way too much to say about everything, there's no chance Trixie will ever leave the MAO loft without a fight or a divorce settlement...

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