Art & Specialty Claims Assistance

“I don’t need to know everything, I just need to know where to FIND it when I need it.”

-Albert Einstein

When encountering damaged art and speciality collection items, many claims professionals are uncertain about replacement cost values, available repair options or the cost effectiveness of treatments and repairs. For example, we received an email from an adjuster seeking information about a broken antique statue:

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Unknowns and uncertainties can be frustrating for both insureds and claims professionals. The difficulty of working through the due diligence research may slow down the process of closing a file. Having a go-to resource for general information makes it easier to gather practical options and recommendations on how to proceed.

Here is the information we were able to provide on this particular claim:

Hi, (Adjuster)!

Thanks for sending over the pictures. Based on the color, oxidation and the damage (which indicates that it is quite brittle), I think this is probably a cast zinc statue. These were less expensive alternatives to bronze or marble sculptures and they were mostly produced between the 1850s and 1950s.

The value range can be pretty wide and with a bit of Googling, you’ll find that higher value zinc sculptures are in sound condition, are attributed to a well known sculptor or have some other provenance that may support a higher value than the mass produced, consumer or decorative varieties.

I found a similar sized garden piece in excellent shape that recently sold at auction for $800. However, it is in excellent shape without serious pitting or oxidation. The auction reserve on it pre-sale was $1,000 - $2,000. Probably an unrealistic price expectation, in my opinion. Here's the link:

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Some antique zinc statues of this type do appear for sale for thousands of dollars, but as I mentioned, they possess some unique quality or artist attribution that may justify a higher price in the minds of some dealers.

If I had to give an educated guess on an estimate for this one in pre-loss condition, I would suggest a $200-$300 estimated RCV. Of course, there may be some information that the insured has that we don't know, which could marginally move this figure up or down. Even still, I don’t think that repair would be cost-effective or worthwhile in this case.

If you’re interested in reading more, here is a Smithsonian article about zinc sculptures:

Feel free to give me a call if you want to discuss this further. Hope this is helpful!

We are not appraisers, and in many cases, opinions on valuation are subjective. In some instances, you may find that you need to work with a professional appraiser, and in others you may just need some good working knowledge to get you started in resolving a claim.

If this type of information would be useful in pointing you in the right direction on a claim involving fine art or specialty collections, let us know. This information took about 20 minutes to put together and was provided to the adjuster free of charge.