Asset Protection Strategies for Collectors

By May 15, 2011July 18th, 2011Art Collecting, Insuring art

With many affluent consumers utilizing their valuable collections as a means of diversifying their investment portfolios, too often they do not devote adequate time and effort to managing the risks involved with owning such prized collections, according to a white paper released today by ACE Private Risk Services, the high-net-worth personal insurance business of the ACE Group. The paper, “From Passion to Investment: Asset Protection Strategies for Collectors,” highlights eleven steps that affluent consumers or their wealth managers can take to better protect their valuable collections.

“Fine art, wine, and other collections have an advantage over traditional investment vehicles because they provide both financial and aesthetic value to their owners,” said Gary Raphael, Senior Vice President, Risk Consulting, ACE Private Risk Services. “But they have added risks too, such as theft and physical damage from an array of hazards, and too often collectors aren’t systematically addressing these risks. You can’t accidentally poke a hole in a corporate bond, but it’s happened to a Picasso.”

According to the white paper, as affluent consumers expand their collections, it also becomes increasingly important to have a system for documenting and regularly updating the insured value of their prized possessions.

“Often, the individual works are not recorded for documentation purposes, and when they are, in some cases, it’s on an antiquated legacy spreadsheet system that fails to account for rising values,” said Gerald Escobar, President of Asset Archives, Inc., a global collections management firm based in Atlanta, Ga. “Someone with multiple residences–each containing valuable collections on display or on loan–may be unaware of or accidentally under-representing the financial value of these items.”

To help affluent collectors and their wealth managers protect their valuable collections, ACE Private Risk Services’ white paper lists eleven steps, which are briefly summarized below:

1.   Assemble the correct team of experts to provide advice for protecting, preserving, and insuring the collection.
2.   Establish a system for tracking and valuing the collection on a regular basis.
3.   Protect the collection from theft through investment in both perimeter and external security systems and register it with the applicable registry.
4.   Protect the collection from fire and smoke with detection systems and water sprinklers.
5.   Choose the display location and method to guard against damage from water, sunlight, fireplace smoke, and other hazards.
6.   Make sure art in storage is well-protected from the elements, and avoid storage in attics or basements, where heat and humidity levels can reach extremes.
7.   Store wine in a properly constructed wine cellar; make sure any temperature control systems have a back-up power supply.
8.   Use professional art shippers when putting collections in transit.
9.   When loaning a valuable art piece or collection to a museum, make sure it has adequate safety measures and insurance in place.
10.  Develop an evacuation plan for the collection in case of a disaster.
11.  Maintain proper insurance by keeping scheduled values current and choosing an insurance company that specializes in serving affluent and high-net-worth clients.

Reposted from Market Watch