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Zilkens' News Blog

Dr. Stephan Zilkens

Stephan Zilkens

Zilkens' News Blog 13 2022

Dear friends of Kobel's Art Week,

the Russian junta's war against Ukraine is in its fifth week and the superpower announces that all they really wanted to do was liberate Donbass and Luhansk. At the same time, they proclaim that Russian culture would be destroyed by the class enemy, that Gogol and Tolstoy would no longer be read, that Rachmaninov and Mussorgsky would no longer be played, and that El Lissitzky and Jawlensky would be banished to the depots, and Russian leaders expect this same evil enemy to believe anything in negotiations. For example, that they only want Ukraine as a buffer zone (and not Poland, Lithuania, etc.); for example, that they stand by their energy supply obligations; for example, that they have not ordered any war crimes. The former secret service man and his foreign minister have done everything in the last few weeks to make it impossible to sign any more contracts with them and their entourage. Trust can probably only grow again when the people acting are different. It is a pity, because that country has many wonderful people, crative inventors and great artists who do not deserve to be perceived in this way. However, in a totalitarian state that controls the information channels, you can only develop in meta-languages if you want to stay in your home country. Creativity in suffocating environments is familiar to those who lived in the GDR before 1990. In the West, generations no longer know what it means not to be able to express one's opinion freely.

Which brings us to the Saarland - a German state with roughly the population of Cologne and a certain tendency towards French lifestyle - but with no industry worth mentioning and a rather peripheral location. Now the old auntie SPD has an absolute majority in the local parliament and the newly elected CDU leader has lost the election - write and comment many newspapers that actually want to be taken seriously. But he was neither responsible for the election campaign nor for the personnel tableau there - and if the lack of colour gives birth to pallor, then the one who shimmers a bit profits. It's interesting that the Saarlanders couldn't warm up to either the Liberals or the Greens - but neither Lindner nor the new party duo in the Greens (sorry, the names aren't that familiar yet) and not even the super-minister screwed that part up, if you follow the gazettes. Real quality journalism.

As is well known, Anne Will, who shows every Sunday that she is really only good at self-dramatisation, is also pursuing quality journalism. Now she has given the German Chancellor a one-off programme that made it clear that he is not interested in inspiring anything and hopes to restore peace in Europe with peace, joy and happiness. The European economy is already enduring the unrealistic bureaucratic and not democracy-enhancing legislative excesses of the EU Commission and the corresponding Parliament without going to its knees. The change from Russian gas to another energy source will be bearable, if one wants to and has the courage to let declared dead energy sources live longer.

In any case, art insurers can show whether they have the courage to insure art that is being transported from Ukraine to the West for exhibitions in the current situation. It is not about the risk of war, but about the classical risks of transport, whereby up to the Polish or Romanian border neither the use of professional trucks nor appropriate packaging can be assumed. On the other hand, it is a question of securing art from Ukraine and making it visible, because it is no longer safe in its current locations due to the Russian aggression.

The art market seems to remain vital and expects the most expensive Warhol ever in May, when a Marilyn from the Ammann Foundation's collection is to be auctioned at Christies. 200 million USD is expected and should it be achieved, what does that mean for the valuation of the other copies with different colouring? How does one determine the insurance value before the hammer falls? And especially afterwards??? - This is also a challenge for the insurance market, as many art insurers provide less capacity per individual risk. Would Hiscox, who probably invented this, be willing to leave it up to the customer to decide whether to collect the sum insured in the event of a scratch or only the costs of restoration and depreciation? According to today's market situation, the annual premium would perhaps be 200,000.00 USD, rather less, and for that trust in a subjective risk that can trigger an uncontrolled loss volume of 200,000,000.00 USD? The business model could interest even hardened shareholders if the dividend were to be cancelled. Sour shareholders are more exhausting for the employed managers than satisfied customers. And what about the principle of equal treatment? Who gets this special coverage and who doesn't? - and why?

I wish everyone a week of coolness - in four weeks the Venice Biennale starts, before that there was Art Düsseldorf already next week.

Yours, Stephan Zilkens and the team of Zilkens Fine Art Insurance Broker GmbH in Cologne and Solothurn

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Dr. Stephan Zilkens | Zilkens Fine Art Insurance Broker