Jeremy Baggott, Head of Private Clients at 'Zurich'

Art is flourishing in the Middle East with the numbers of art collectors on the rise, and the proliferation of local and regional art galleries and museums. We always wondered how art collectors and museums protected those expensive and valuable works of art, and thus got in touch with one of the world's leading insurance groups, 'Zurich'.

A recent market survey conducted by this insurance group gained insights into perceptions of art collectors regionally and found out that the majority of art collectors in the Middle East do not actually insure and thereby protect their art and  do not understand the importance of protecting art and valuable items in comparison to the more matured markets such as in the European countries.  Most collectors were also clueless to the detrimental risks that the slightest  heat and humidity posed to fine art.

This information is alarming, especially now, at a time of increased interest in art for the region, so we decided to learn some more and had a  tête-à-tête with Jeremy Baggott, Head of Private Clients at 'Zurich'

Do you think that collectors in the region sufficiently protect their art works?

Our research shows that collectors in the Middle East are significantly less likely than those in more mature markets to take out insurance to protect their art and valuables. However, as the art market in the region continues to develop, collectors are starting to become much more aware of the importance of insuring their most valuable possessions. We hope that Zurich’s recently announced three-year partnership with Christie’s in the UAE will provide an opportunity to raise awareness further still.

What are some of the reasons that collectors do not insure their high-value art items?

Theft is the risk most often associated with fine art. Here in the Middle East, where levels of burglary and theft are much lower than in Europe and North America, it is easy to understand why insurance may not be front of mind for most collectors. In reality, however, accidental damage, and not theft, is a far higher risk, and this applies as much to the Middle East as it does to the rest of the world.

Why should collectors insure their artworks?

Put simply, insurance protects collectors against any monetary loss in the event that their art is damaged or stolen. In the event of damage, restoration costs can be considerable and, even once fully repaired, the value of the piece may be significantly less than before the accident. Working with specialist art insurers like Zurich also offers clients a range of additional  benefits, such as complimentary cataloguing and valuation by Zurich’s in-house experts, and advice on storage and security arrangements.

What are some of the very common accidents that occur in the Middle East markets?

Transit is by far the biggest single cause of accidental damage to paintings and, in a region where people regularly come and go, this is a particular problem in the Middle East. The region‘s hot and humid climate can also be extremely punishing, and water dripping from air conditioning units is a very common cause of damage to paintings.

What advice would you give to collectors when it comes to protecting their art?

Zurich understands that most collections can never be replaced, so the focus for any collector should always be on prevention rather than loss. Moreover, while fine art is a passion for many, it is also an investment, so it is essential that collections are properly insured.

– Khaleejesque Staff

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