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After a somewhat subdued January in terms of art fairs - apart from Art Singapore, there was nothing really going on - things are really kicking off in February. BRAFA kicked things off, and as a gallery owner and art critic, you would have to be in dozens of places around the globe at the same time to reach collectors of all sexes. Without claiming to be complete, one could start in Bologne with the ArteFiera (Stefan Kobel was there and reported), then to Jakarta for the Jakarta Gardens opening on 7.2, the day after tomorrow, from there to Brussels for the affordable Art Fair (8.2), in the night straight to Mexico City for the ZonaMaco (8.2). ) well, and then you have to decide whether you don't want to be seen at the next opening and therefore make do with the normal visitor days, because on 9.2. you open the 1-54 contemporary African Art Fair in Marrakech, in Rotterdam the Art named after the city and in New Delhi the India Art Fair. The fairs all run until 12 February, after which it will become clear how vital the art market is. There are two destinations to head for on 16.2, which are not next to each other either: Frieze in Los Angeles and Investec in Cape Town, whose parent company is the fair in Milan. And for those who still need something more folkloric, the last days of carnival in Düsseldorf, Mainz or Cologne are open to them from 18 February. After all the international art, it's really cosy to cross the threshold of flat humour with Helau and Alaaf. Since we have our office in one of the main carnival cities, our offices are closed on Shrove Tuesday and Rose Monday. Nothing goes on in the city and it doesn't even take climate lovers of all sexes sticking their necks out on the street or the local administration with its 22,500-plus employees to bring about a standstill. Just having fun is enough. And afterwards, there's Lent for the buses.
Which brings us to the general world situation - the war in Ukraine continues with unabated ferocity. Thousands of Ukrainian children have been and are being abducted to Russia and forcibly adopted by families living there. In the communist world, family education plays no role anyway, it only benefits the class enemy and his bourgeois ideals, which one wants to overcome. But Russia is no longer communist at all, but has democratic elected bodies - we are supposed to believe - and they are waging a war against fascism in Ukraine ... . Against what, please? One can't exactly speak of totalitarian rule in Kyiv - an oligarch was deposed and an actor was elected. The fact that this upsets Putin's power structure and is supposed to justify the greatest atrocities and is unfortunately believed by Russians of all genders takes away their innocence - and raising children from Ukraine knowing full well that parents and relatives are still alive just because the Russian camarilla orders it and perhaps sweetens it with money is thus the most evil in terms of long-term effect that I can imagine.
The insurance industry, whether insurers or reinsurers, have not yet given up their blockade of insuring normal risks, such as fire or tap water, in Ukraine. However, investments in reconstruction, which are still going on during the war, need this economic protection. The assets in the country also need to be covered, because the individual rarely has the economic power of the community - that's where insurance comes from. Perhaps now comes the hour of the offshore capital managers who are looking for an interesting return on their liquidity. We support such considerations, which of course also apply to the art that is in Ukraine and that is being created there from day to day. Art is part of the support and protection that the soul needs to survive in these times.
The art thefts are spectacular when gold and precious stones are involved - silver is also readily taken. Thefts of - to put it profanely - flatware are rather rare. Several auction houses and a museum in France and Austria were victims of thefts of works by Signac or Renoir, among others, between 2017 and 2019. A mastermind who calls himself an independent art broker between Ukraine and Russia has now been sentenced to 5 years in prison by a court in Nancy. Of the works, however, only the Signac from Nancy has so far turned up quite damaged. Whether the work was insured is unknown. Fortunately, it was already found in Ukraine in 2019. If the find had been made after 24.2.2022, the insurers might have refused on the grounds that the damage was war-related because the painting had been cut out of its frame. Some lawyer, regardless of gender, is usually willing to accept a fee for finding far-fetched reasons for "rejection creates facts". It is a pity that punitive damages are unknown in Europe. Many an insurer would then come to the negotiating table sooner.
We wish you a constructive and enjoyable week - carnival is yet to come.
Stephan Zilkens and the team of Zilkens Fine Art Insurance Broker GmbH in Solothurn and Cologne