Tips for art collectors during COVID-19
Updated: May 22, 2020
1. If you have any artwork out on consignment (to a gallery or auction house), you should ensure you file a UCC (Uniform Commercial Code) for these works. This designates you as a secure lender in case the gallery or auction house goes into bankruptcy while your artwork is in their care. Having a UCC filing will ensure you get your artwork back through the bankruptcy proceedings. You can ask your lawyer to do this filing or you can do it on-line. It has to be filed in the state where the artwork is located. Sample state websites for filings: New York California Florida 2. If you have artwork out on loan or consignment to a museum or gallery, you should review your loan/consignment agreement to ensure it does not need to be extended until the borrower can return your artwork. Many loan/consignment agreements are valid on a “wall to wall” basis or from the moment the artwork moves for the loan until it is returned to you so the date may not need to be extended. If the museum/gallery needed to increase their policy limits for a high-valued exhibition that your artwork is a part of, you should inquire if their policy limits remain adequate through this extended period. You can request an updated Certificate of Insurance to confirm this. 3. If you have works out on loan/consignment, confirm with the borrowing organisation that all protective systems are up and running and monitored. Some insurance policies, especially in some European countries, have requirements for very specific security (alarm and guards), fire alarms and climate controls.
4. Hurricane season begins on June 1st. If the museum/gallery where your artwork is out on loan is in a Hurricane-prone area, inquire as to if the institution has any Wind, Storm, or Flood exclusions, sub limits or very high deductibles. Inquire as to what their Disaster Plan is, especially in light of worker restrictions and limited access to fine art shippers throughout various states’ shut-downs. 5. When museums/galleries begin to re-open, they will likely be following CDC guidelines for sanitising their spaces. Ask them if they are consulting with their conservators regarding which cleaning agents they are using in the proximity of your artwork. The American Institute of for Conservation has many resources on this specific topic: https://www.culturalheritage.org/resources/emergencies/collections-care-amid-covid-19 https://www.loc.gov/preservation/scientists/projects/sanitize.html 6. As museums and fine art shippers begin to open, the museum/gallery may schedule the return of your artwork. The art logistics industry has established guidelines for entering someone’s home. Please ensure that you are on the same page with the museum/gallery and art handlers well prior to them coming into your home. Below is a sample agreement from the Art Services Worker Safety Coalition. In addition, you should also think about what specific precautions you want in place to protect you and your family. https://www.artservicesworkersafetycoalition.com/in-person-appointment-safety-agreem 7. Ensure a thorough condition report is conducted as soon as your artwork returns to your care. If there is any change in the condition of the artwork, alert the borrowing museum/gallery immediately so they can notify their insurance company.
8. If you are away from one of your homes for an extended period of time, ensure your fire and burglar alarms are fully functional as well as your climate control systems. If possible, have someone check in on your empty home for any small water drips or other maintenance issues with your home or artwork.
9. With Hurricane season approaching, consider moving artwork in Hurricane-prone areas to a fine art storage facility from June 1st – November 30th.