The growing effects of climate change should be a wake-up call for art collectors and their planners, a top art insurance executive says. As major storms such as Hurricane Sandy increase in frequency, art collectorsand their advisorsneed to be more vigilant about emergency evacuation plans and inventory management systems for valuable works of art, according to Katja Zigerlig, vice president for fine art and wine insurance at the AIG Private Client Group.
"People have to start thinking more about catastrophic events," says Zigerlig, who gave a presentation on art trends in February at an event in Miami sponsored by Northern Trust. "Natural disasters are occurring more frequently, and Hurricane Sandy was just the most recent example.
"My presentation was held only a few blocks from the ocean," she recalls. "When I asked how many people in the audience had an emergency evacuation plan in case of a storm, only a few people listening raised their hand."
Advisors should also make sure clients with valuable art collections have an inventory management system that is regularly updated, Zigerlig says.
"After Hurricane Sandy, there were collectors who didn't know what they had and what they could claim as a loss, because they didn't have a list. It's something people overlook, but they really can't afford to," she adds.
High- and ultra-high-net-worth clients who want to start an art collection should consider working with an art advisor, says Zigerlig, who also works with BNY Mellon and U.S. Trust. "The art market is unregulated and very opaque," she notes. "A lot of knowledge is gleaned by cultivating relationships, and if you're not part of that world, it's very difficult to keep up. Art advisors know what's going on, and they can inform and educate a collector."
Advise would-be collectors to make sure they genuinely enjoy the art they're collecting, Zigerlig also stresses. Buying works with an eye to quick turnaround sales is a risky proposition, she says. "This is a very cyclical market, where a long-term passion will serve you much better than short-term speculation."
Collectors should have a firm budget in mind when beginning to work with an advisor, whose compensation is usually set by a negotiated hourly or project-based fee. Zigerlig recommends collectors and financial advisors beginning to research art advisors should start with the Association of Professional Art Advisors website (www.artadvisors.org).