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THE ART PERITUS BLOG

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24/Oct/22
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By now many have heard about the group “Stop Oil Now” pouring a can of soup on “Sunflowers” by Vincent Van Gogh at the National Gallery. The incident was originally reported via Artnet. The intent of the activists involved (according to their messaging) was not to damage the painting that was protected behind glass, but instead to call attention to their climate-centered mission and encourage society to question what we value on the whole. The Climate Activists said at the time of protest, “What is worth more, art or life? … are you more concerned about the protection of a painting or the protection of our planet and people?”

The protest and this statement have sparked a range of opinions and passionate responses from across the spectrum. Many who fear the impending climate crisis do not see this act as criminal, but rather an important statement about impending climate change. Others, such as Art Insurers and those whose job it is to protect cultural patrimony, see it in another light-one of a threat to something they value and hold dear. Both sides feel the stakes are high. Is there something to be learned by this incident? Is there a middle ground?

As a former Risk Manager at Sotheby’s, these were the sorts of moments that would keep me awake at night. I was hired to protect the organization against loss, including both employees and the Fine Art. At all times I was to be conscious of what was happening to important objects in our care, and see after the safety of employees and patrons. There were steps that we took to protect art such as having visitors check baggage, adding protective glazing to pictures, and reviewing alarms and security. If I were still a Risk Manager, I would also be reaching out to my insurer to check on my coverage for Vandalism and Malicious Mischief and setting a threshold of value at which we add protective glazing and security barriers to viewing items.

At the same time, can one care about the safe keeping of art, but also be concerned about the environment? As a nature lover, I have to say it is a resounding yes. If I stop to look at my actions as an individual and from within an organization in this moment, am I “giving in” to what might be considered unlawful behavior? I think not. I can take this opportunity to look at my behaviors and consider what the motivation is behind these protests and make appropriate adjustments.

There is certainly room within the Art World for more sustainable practices. Several art shippers including Crozier & Momart have begun implementing more art shipments by sea and sustainable practices. And generally speaking, any organization can look at its carbon footprint and find ways to be gentler on the planet. And as an added bonus, you reduce costs while also aligning with the values of those who care about the environment. According to the New York Times titled, “Mindful of its Impact on the Planet, the Art World Aims for Sustainability” :

Some 70 percent of collectors, for instance, now think about “sustainability options” when purchasing art or managing their collections; 64 percent are concerned with reducing their personal travel to art-related events and 68 percent are open to employing more environmentally conscious delivery methods when shipping pieces of art.

A large percentage of art collectors care both about the Planet and art, and this will only increase with time. To not consider these statistics would be a misstep for any organization. If you wish to learn more about sustainability in the Art World, here are a few organizations that are making strides in the area::

Superflex https://superflex.net/

Gallery Climate Coalition https://galleryclimatecoalition.org/

ROKBOX https://rok-box.com/

Julie’s Bicycle https://juliesbicycle.com/

Serpentine’s General Ecology Program https://www.serpentinegalleries.org/general-ecology/

Does the Art World value the protection of the painting more than that of the planet? Or is it possible to care about both? I think the latter, although there is always room for improvement. In the meantime, protest activity is bound to continue, so check with your insurer for ideas and strategies to protect collections. Additionally, review your carbon footprint and sustainability protocols to see if there are areas for adjustment.

In the meantime, to protect art and the Earth can both be priorities for art organizations that are not mutually exclusive of one another. The creation of art historically was often a form of protest or appreciation of nature, and is worth preserving. And Nature, the very thing that allows art to exist, down to its very pigments and matter, is also worth preserving in the most urgent way.


12/Oct/22
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Should the Warhol Foundation compensate the Photographer Lynn Goldsmith for referencing her photograph of Prince, or is it Fair Use? Two different courts had different opinions on the matter, so this case has moved all the way up to the Supreme Court. The decision will actually be televised on CSPAN today and will have a major impact on Art Law.

The Art World is all ears because the decision will have trickle down effects in terms of Fair Use and many organizations, including Museums, are concerned. There are fears that Artists will not have freedom of expression. But at the same time, when there is so much sharing of images with social media and reuse, should artists get some sort of licensing compensation or attribution? Especially when artist’s who derive from their work make upwards of millions of dollars?

Art Peritus will watch this case closely to determine if the decision has any impact on value for contemporary works of art.

To read more about the case read the article by Nina Totenberg in NPR: https://www.npr.org/2022/10/12/1127508725/prince-andy-warhol-supreme-court-copyright

Image Reference: A portrait of Prince taken by Lynn Goldsmith (left) in 1981 and 16 silk-screened images Andy Warhol later created using the photo as a reference. Courtesy Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States


06/Oct/22
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A recent article from ARTnews on “The Great Wealth Transfer” takes a forward look at the implications of the impending transfer of wealth (including art) from the Boomer generation to Gen X and Millennials. In the article, the consensus from Sara McDaniel with Morgan Stanley seems to be that children may not want to take on their parents’ art collections due to differences in taste. Sara recommends the best option for art collectors is to sell a collection before passing, or gift it to an institution.

An accurate appraisal and audit of collections will make assessing these options much simpler. Art Peritus has assisted countless private clients by providing certified appraisals, organizing art collections into management systems, and with preparing estate planning appraisals for inheritance tax and wealth transfer purposes.

One recent example of an Art Peritus Project included appraising an Estate from a High Net Worth collector with over 15,000 objects purchased from all over the world. The art and collectibles ranged in age from antiquity to the 20th Century. The works were valued any where from $5 to $5 million USD.

The project came with many challenges and nuances that we were ready to tackle due to years of experience in handling similar situations including:

  • Many items were packed away in boxes, with very little room to maneuver.
  • There were no pre-exiting inventory or appraisals.
  • Our busy client had very few receipts.
  • We were only given access to the collection over 10 days.
  • Only 1,500 art objects were visible during the first 5 days of the appraisal project. The rest were seen 2 months before project completion
  • The collection included some pieces in very complicated collecting categories with very few ‘qualified’ specialists recognized by the IRS/USPAP
  • The project came to us during the Covid Pandemic, so we were conscious of health requirements.

Despite the challenges presented in the appraisal of this private art collection, we were able to complete the project to the satisfaction of the client. The steps to completion involved the following:

  • Art Peritus employed 22 certified appraisers from our network of vetted specialists.
  • The Estate’s Trust required a “step-up in basis” appraisal for tax purposes. This occurs when the price of an inherited asset on the date of the decedent’s death is above its original purchase price. The tax code allows for the raising of the cost basis to the higher price, minimizing the capital gains taxes owed if the asset is sold later.
  • We established a threshold of value so that the Trust wasn’t paying for unnecessary work from us on objects valued below $500. We always consider our client’s budget.
  • We narrowed down the list of objects to approximately 5,000 items for the report.
  • We provided full comparables for any work with a FMV (fair market value) over $5,000
  • The Trust now has access to the collection in our database to decide how they want to handle deaccession in the future.

Art Peritus has the resources and experience to take on appraisal and art collection management projects of any size with our roster of specialists, project oriented staff and specialized database. What may seem like a daunting task comes together seamlessly with the right resources and art project management experience.


06/Oct/22
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Have you heard the news? A Blue-and-White Dragon vase just sold for $7.5 Million—more than 4,000 times its $1,900 estimate according to artnet. “It exceeds the price of Napoleon’s saber!” said the flabbergasted French auctioneer who sold it.

According to the article by Caroline Goldstein, “The tianqiuping-style vase, featuring intricate blue designs of dragons and whorls on a white ground, was consigned by a woman who had never even seen the 21-inch-tall object. She had simply arranged for it to be sold from her late mother’s estate at the France-based Osenat auction house in Fontainebleau, France, about 40 miles from Paris.”

We asked Paul J. Fisher, Director of Appraisals and Business Development for Art Peritus, for an opinion on the matter. He recalled a similar story with the Qianlong vase that fetched £53.1M at auction in 2010, but as many will remember this vase was subsequently never paid for.

In regards to the Dragon vase bidding war, Paul says this occurs more frequently than might be expected. He commented:

“This remarkable sale shows the ongoing demand for important works, and it repeats the age old pattern of sellers not always knowing what they have. Advising private clients on the value of their property, however esoteric, is Art Peritus’ specialty.”

Curious to know what you have? Contact us for a consult at info@artperitus.com.

For more details on the saga of the Qianlong vase click here: https://en.thevalue.com/articles/exclusive-leak-sothebys-hong-kong-2018-qianlong-yellow-ground-reticulated-yangcai-vase-2010-bainbridge

Read about the Dragon Vase here: https://news.artnet.com/market/chinese-dragon-vase-unexpected-sale-8-million-2185468


02/Aug/22
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As part of our full suite of Art Services, we are pleased to offer this remarkable Kota figure for purchase via the Art Peritus | Selects Online Gallery. In the late 19th century, the Kota people created reliquary figures known as “mbulu ngulu” to act as guardians to protect the remains of their family ancestors. Although no two figures are the same, they all hail from the Gabon region of Africa and share distinctive elements- flattened forms and figurative characteristics that are stylized to the verge of abstraction.
Face of the Kota Reliquary

Carved in wood, the human face and head is enlarged and exaggerated in a geometric form that rises above its carved neck and smaller open lozenge body. The front of the figure is covered in copper and brass, metals that were scarce and as highly valued as gold in nineteenth century Gabon. The metals were hammered with decorative geometric patterns and motifs, and were kept shiny to be as reflective, symbolic of water and the spiritual other side.

Kota Reliquary Detail

These sculptural guards were originally attached above a basket holding the remains, acting as a mystical connection between the living and the dead. As the people of Gabon converted to Christianity over the 18th and 19th centuries, missionaries and colonials began to collect these figures. Today, most of these sculptures can be found in museums and private collections in Europe and North America.

Origin: Gabon
Period: 19th Century
Materials: Wood, brass and copper

Find purchase details here: Kota Reliquary Figure.