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Zilkens' News Blog

Dr. Stephan Zilkens

Stephan Zilkens

Zilkens' News Blog 16 2023

It was a nice business trip for French police officers and employees of the FBI, who went to the Michèle Vasarely Foundation in Old San Juan in Puerto Rico to secure over 100 works by Victor Vasarely. The fact that this involves nasty inheritance disputes between Michele Taburno-Vasarely, Victor's daughter-in-law, and Pierre Vasarely, his grandson, who is already much more French than his Hungarian-born grandfather, will not be explored in depth here. Rather, it is interesting to see how unprofessionally the art haulers (they don't deserve a better term, judging by the pictures one has of the action) hired by the acting state organs on American territory handled the works and the related question, are damages resulting from the improper handling of this transport insured? The action was the execution of a French sentence in the American foreign territory of Puerto Rico - hence the presence of the FBI. All the terms and conditions of cover stipulate the exclusion of damage caused by the intervention of the authorities. This essentially refers to confiscation, which for the owner represents the loss of his property and would therefore initially be an insured event. However, the insurance industry does not oppose the current order, hence the exclusion. Now, the works were not damaged by the enforcement officers who were present, because they were only standing by and may have hired the guys with the gloves, who then lashed the canvases between cardboard on the truck. So the High Hand didn't touch anything, only let it be touched. Imagine that the grandson is ultimately unable to enforce his claim in the last instance and the works are returned damaged. Lucky chance 1 : There will be no condition reports made immediately before the works were taken away. Fortune 2 : Against whom must the claims now be directed? The grandson, because his legal basis was shaky after all? The FBI, because it supervised the action on its territory?, the French state, because it had a provisional sentence enforced? or the parcel-pusher, who had to do the actual work? To complicate matters, we can imagine a transport with subsequent storage in France, then those who produced the travel-ready packaging, those who carried out the land transport, each carrier and also each airline that transported as well as the warehouse keeper would come into consideration. Quite the Gordian knot and Causa Proxima for the individual damage is the improper handling, not the seizure. Our legally educated readers are already rejoicing over the rich fees that can be charged in such proceedings. Possibly this is also a case for Defective Title insurance - and all in all, the whole discussion presupposes the existence of art insurance. Without that, only the complex liability routes remain - have a good time and a fat bank account - that should have seen quite a redistribution at the end of the day ...

Ukraine needs support not only in the military field. UNESCO has just announced a 10-year aid package worth EUR 6.4 billion to support the country's cultural reconstruction. Ukraine's Minister of Culture and Information Policy, Oleksandr Tkachenko, met with ministers from Norway, Croatia, the US, the Netherlands, Japan and Poland in March 2023 alone. He also participated in conferences at UNESCO and the Council of Europe under the Commission on Education and Culture to get Russia to recognise a "cultural genocide" in Ukraine. It is now well known that Putin and his entourage refuse to recognise the cultural autonomy of Ukraine. The fact that there are independent current developments in Ukraine is shown by the exhibitions that are currently taking place in the Pinchuk Art Centre in Kyiv, among others, despite the war. Last year, there was also the exhibition "Worth Fighting For", which can now be experienced virtually with explanations in German, English and Ukrainian. Click here for more.

Inflation also affects insurers' claims burdens. In some lines more, in others less. But just as the upcoming salary negotiations, among other things, will increase personnel costs in the German armed forces by 1.5 billion, the same will happen in all other sectors with corresponding levers. On the one hand, rising insurance sums will generate higher premiums, but that will not be enough to keep insurance costs in check. Even in the low-cost lines, such as private liability insurance, it will go up.

Welcome to the first week without German nuclear power, but all the more from France and soon perhaps from Finland and Poland. At the moment, the Greens are running a gigantic price increase programme for German export products, which have to buy CO2 equivalents to meet the environmental targets because of the now prevailing coal-fired power generation. This squeezes margins and promotes automation. Artificial intelligence sounds like a harmless challenge - actually, we should have a debate about it, like in the 70s of the last century, about the responsibility of the scientists at Los Alamos in the development of the atomic bomb. With a few exceptions, however, responsibility can no longer be attributed to individuals nowadays ...

Have a pleasant week, maybe you will have time to visit Brussels, where ART Brussels opens its doors on Thursday.

The team of Zilkens Fine Art Insurance Broker GmbH in Solothurn and Cologne

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Dr. Stephan Zilkens | Zilkens Fine Art Insurance Broker