Damage of artwork is not reserved for just the casual collector. From time to time, institutions with entire departments dedicated to preserving, protecting, and hanging artworks has mishaps. Sometime between June 30-July 1, The Metropolitan Museum of Art's most important terracotta relief by the artist Andrea della Robbia (1435-1525) fell off the wall. The relief, entitled Archangel Weighing Souls had been exhibited in the same spot since 1996. Although the museum's spokesman Harold Holzer was quoted as saying the work was "eminently restorable" one can only hope the museum had very good insurance. To get an idea of how much Della Robia's work can be worth one only needs to look at past auctions. In February of 2003 a glazed terracotta piece by the artist was estimated to sell at Finarte Semenzato between $150,053-$171,489. Damage can hurt value even if the piece is repaired by the best experts in the world. And, as much as it hurts to see your piece is damaged, it is heartbreaking to get less money than you deserve because you did not have a preexisting condition report.
THREE THINGS YOU CAN DO TO PROTECT YOUR ART
1. (BEST OPTION) An appraisal is always best because your appraiser takes photos and gives a detailed description of your items. This is an unbiased report that your insurance company can rely on.
2. (BETTER OPTION) If you can not afford a complete appraisal have an appraiser come in and take photos and brief notes about each piece. This is a less expensive option and still provides your insurance company with unbiased evidence of the "before".
3.(GOOD OPTION) At the very least you should take photos of each artwork and each signature along with basic notes about size, framing, and condition.
BE SURE TO STORE AT LEAST ONE COPY OF ANY INFORMATION IN A SAFETY DEPOSIT BOX.