Provenance: A valuable tool to mitigate risk in fine art deals

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In fine arts, an object’s value is intrinsically tied to its authenticity. An authentic work by an esteemed artist can command millions of dollars, while a forgery of the same work, even if a casual observer couldn’t distinguish it from the original, might be nearly worthless. In art transactions, managing risk therefore necessarily involves determining authenticity, to the fullest extent possible.

Authenticity can come into play in sometimes unexpected ways in claims involving loss or damage to fine art. The value of a claim depends on whether the piece is insured on the basis of current market value or an agreed scheduled market value. In either case, an appraisal might raise questions about a work’s authenticity, of which the owner was previously unaware.

Art experts, collectors and dealers usually rely on several methods to determine authenticity, and an important one is provenance, which is the history of a work’s ownership.

In this article, Natasha Fekula, vice president and claims manager, fine art, jewelry and specie, AXA XL, focuses on why provenance is a valuable tool to mitigate risk in fine art deals.

Topics covered:
• Provenance and authenticity.
• Red flags buyers of fine art should look for.
• Determining authenticity.