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Dear readers of Kobel's Kunstwoche,
Monday was still a holiday in Germany - Whit Monday, in other words, the day on which one also commemorates the ability to communicate in several languages. Putin's soldiery had only one barbarically reduced vocabulary in store for Pentecost Sunday: missiles on Kyiv. Frightened Europe is currently trying its hand at multilingualism - wanting peace and yet professing its commitment to a strong army. Germany, at least, has initiated this with an amendment to the Constitution and a special fund (a nice word for something that doesn't even exist) of 100 billion euros.
The fact that works of art made of gold and precious stones are endangered not so much because of their artistic or content-related context had to be experienced in Brooklyn when a golden tabernacle costing probably 2 million USD was stolen from a church. In Dresden, the theft from the Green Vault is painfully remembered, where the perpetrators have been identified but there is no trace of the jewellery. These things are spectacular, but bronze or iron sculptures also disappear because the perpetrators hope to get plenty of money for the melted bronze or iron. In the meantime, the art market is blocked very quickly because the Art Loss Register is taken seriously by auction houses, art dealers and galleries. Interpol's new app "ID-Art" could also help if it could get the information online quickly. It provides anyone with easy access to all works of art reported stolen to Interpol. But it is possible that St. Bureaucratius, together with the wild Regulatorix Europaearum, is preventing the rapid publication. We have just had to deal with a rather brazen theft of contemporary works of art close to the border, which Interpol is probably also dealing with. Let's see when the works show up in the app.
Insurers have a hard time when it comes to art. Only in the case of Mona Lisa, whose glass armour was pelted with dirt to lend more weight to some well-intentioned, crude idea, do they not have to cover it. State liability - France is a rich country. Not so with the Dallas Art Museum. There, a 21-year-old could break in and destroy ancient Greek artefacts just because he was annoyed with his girlfriend. An insured loss of between 2 and 5 million USD.
The beginning of June is auction week - and has once again confirmed that the art trade is quite crisis-resistant. Even the absence of sanction-worthy Russian buyers has not harmed it. May also saw the highest price ever paid for a classic car: 135 million EUR for one of 2 Mercedes Gullwing Uhlenhaut coupés. It gets interesting when the limits of the opponent's liability insurance have to be tested, they usually know limits up to 100 million EUR. On the other hand, insurers of classic cars don't really like such high sums per individual vehicle. Creative solutions are needed - that would be something we enjoy.
Next Saturday the Start Art Week Düsseldorf starts, organised by the local section of the Bundesverband Bildender Künstler and the NRW Minsiterium für Wirtschaft und alles Mögliche. There will also be discussions on pricing and NFTs. On the following Monday, Art Basel starts, whose gallery owners know very well what prices have to be formed and how, so that one can pay for the spectacle. At the end of the Art Basel week, one could then travel to Kassel to see the Dokumenta. There seems to be no anticipation of the art market this time - the initiatives that present themselves in Kassel to showcase the strength of the collective are, in any case, hardly to be found in the artist lists of Europe's most important fair for contemporary art. Perhaps the organisers' postulate of having to conserve resources will be taken seriously and the burden on transport will be eased. Perhaps something will emerge that, in addition to the intellectual challenge, will find direct access to the hearts of the viewers - in which case there would be a contradiction with the conservation of resources.
Wishing you a week of peaceful excitement
Your Stephan Zilkens and the team of Zilkens Fine Art Insurance Broker GmbH in Solothurn and Cologne