What should you do when an artwork is damaged in transit?

Painting damaged in transit? Here’s what to do

The painted canvas has been torn from its wooden stretcher.
Another view of the torn canvas

The painting had been damaged in transit and the artist had been : the job was among her best, the collector had been significant, and also the damage was extensive.
The performer had talked to other musicians and artists, and each of these had given her erroneous or imperfect information.

The painting s torn corner with the broken stretcher peeking out


Having a painting damaged in transit is not uncommon. While I would love to say that every borrower, artwork handler, and shipping company treats artworks within their care like their very own, I have to confess, sadly, this isn’t necessarily the situation.

The shipping crate s broken corner


So, what should you do when an artwork is damaged in transit? Though the answer depends upon whether you’re the owner, seller, purchaser, or artist, or the following general principles are very likely to apply. Insure the Job.
1.First, never ship artwork without insurance. And if you are buying work, be sure to understand who’s responsible for insuring it when it is shipped. My wife, Dr. Elaine Melotti Schmidt, and that I maintain”nailto-nail” coverage, meaning that a job is coated by the time it includes the wall or easel and comes to us and is installed, and vice versa. But this might not be the case for everyone. So be sure you’ve got insurance, know what it covers, and understand that is eligible for payment if work is damaged.

The shipping crate sustained significant damage at top left.
  1. Note the damage on the papers. When there’s damage, note it on any papers the cargo provider asks you to register. Alternatively, you might deny shipping, but this may not be do-able if you already have the job. Making notes is sometimes uncomfortable, but you should force yourself to make a notation even if the delivery person tells you to not be concerned about it. A notation can make a pivotal diference if the shipping company later denies the work was ruined at the time of delivery. It’s especially important when you purchased the insurance from the shipping company. By the way, a delivery person cannot block you from making notessuch as”work received in damaged condition,” on the papers you are asked to sign. Tip: the physician and I try to uncrate or unpack works in the presence of delivery persons to ensure if there’s damage, they view it.
  2. Create a visual record. After noting the harm on the newspapers (and, honestly, even before), make a visual record using a telephone or camera, paying particular attention to areas where there is visible damage,including to the packaging or crate. Pictures of any damage to the work itself are extremely important and these photos must be extensive.
    4.If you can, get the delivery person and the harm in the picture together. Speak to the shipper. Following the photographing, contact the Drain and let them know there’s a problem. This is especially important when you bought insurance from the shipper. If they say,”Tough, it is not our problem,” you do not have to agree. By letting them know, however, you stop them from stating they weren’t educated. By the way, written communication (e.g., email, letter) following a first phone call is crucial. Notify the insurer. If there is insurance, the next and probably most crucial step is notifying the insurance company.
    5.To make sure that you know what’s required, examine the policy. Generally, just as with notifcation of the shipper, best practice indicates a telephone call followed by a written notice containing photos and details, unless the coverage requires otherwise. This begins the”claims procedure.” Remember that the insurer looks on your claim as”business as normal,” regardless of how odd it could be to you, and it’s usually appropriate to collaborate with the insurer’s reasonable requests.
  3. Locate a conservator/restorer. In case the job is not a total loss, you should team with the insurer to fnd an proper conservator to fx the job. (A simple place to start your search is culturalheritage. org/about-conservation/fnd-a-conservator.) Alternately, if the work is a total loss, the insured should make a claim for your entire insured value of the job. Generally, a”total loss” claim requires more negotiation and inspection, so expect this.
    7.When an artwork is ruined but not”totaled,” it is nearly always best if the artist that made the job repairs it. This way, the repairs are in the original writer’s own hand. Of course, this presumes the artists are around and the repairs are within their capabilities. By way of example, if a painting has a scuf or crack in the paint, then this may be easily fxed from the artist. If, however, the damage is more extensive, repairs may best be left to a conservator.
    Note to artists: Don’t hesitate to make repairs to your personal work. But know your limitations. If the repairs are beyond your capability, decrease to do them.
  4. No repairs without everyone on board. It’s impermissible for anyone, even the author of the work, to fix damage without the written approval of the operator. And if someone thinks an insurance company should cover, then you will need the consent of the insurer, too. In the instance of my artist friend whose job was damaged in transit, it would be best when she mended it, but only with the permission of the owner and, if insurance is paying, then the permission of the insurer. Be aware that in case the artist is making the repairs, then he or she’s usually entitled to bill for that new labour, including reasonable travel expenses. These details should be discussed and agreed upon prior to any repairs have been undertaken.
  5. Diminished value. Damaged paintings which have been mended are often worth less than the exact same work without repairs. As such, the insured may be eligible for reimbursement from the insurer because of the”diminished value” of the work. Many insurance providers really dislike this sort of claim and will argue that there’s no way to fgure out how much the work’s value has been reduced. Of course, that isn’t necessarily correct, and you do not need to agree. A look at the policy, and maybe a talk with a lawyer, are good ideas. Just know this might be another element of damages for which the insurance company should compensate.
  6. Get a Attorney. All of the foregoing is just a general outline, not legal counsel. Some insurers can be quite competitive in their approach to settling art damage claims while others are somewhat more relaxed. If you are not sure you are being treated fairly, you should seek legal advice.
    As for the artist friend who uttered one of her own works that was subsequently damaged, what should she do? Her instinct would be to fix the painting himself. This is great, but the frst order of business would be to document the harm and notice it on the shipping documents, then notify the shipper, the proprietor, and the insurer. After the claims procedure has started, if the owner and insurance are prepared, the artist may fix the work herself and charge the insurer for the cost of making the repairs. While all of this sounds complicated, the process can be fairly simple and should result in a quick resolution.

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