THE AMERICAN DREAM: “Le Rêve,” Pablo Picasso’s 1932 portrait of his mistress, Marie-Thérèse Walter, is an iconic work of art. After casino mogul Steve Wynn agreed to sell it for $139 million in 2006 to Steve Cohen of SAC Capital, Wynn accidentally put a hole in the work with his elbow while showing it to guests.  The painting sustained a 3-inch tear that runs along the subject’s forearm. Wynn filed papers stating that insurer Lloyd’s of London owed him $54 million for a partial loss in the value of the picture. (A one-page document discontinuing Wynn’s suit against Lloyd’s was filed in Manhattan federal court in 2007. It did not state whether the claim was settled or how much Lloyd’s might have paid Wynn for the decrease in value of the painting.) In 2013, Cohen allegedly paid $155 million for the oil painting, which was mended at a cost of $90,000 with the damage said to be invisible to the naked eye.

DAMAGE CONTROL: Protecting art’s financial value is a complex process. The worth as well as restoration methods of damaged art may lead to disputes between owners, museums, galleries, and insurance companies. An insurance adjuster may look at damaged artwork, then a conservator is brought in by the insurer to see if the object can be repaired and at what price. If the cost isn’t significantly more than the piece’s value, the artwork may be handed over to the conservator to begin treatment. After repairs are made, an appraiser with expertise in fine art or a dealer in the particular type of art will evaluate the object to determine if the value of the now-repaired work’s value has declined and by how much.

BEGS THE QUESTION: How do art insurance policies work? Does the policy cover the entire cost of restoration? What type of evidence is needed to support an insurance claim for damaged artwork? What happens when there are disagreements about values submitted by an appraiser for the insurance company and another by the policyholder?

IN GOOD REPAIR: The Federal Bar Association is proud to present the Art Law & Litigation Seminar December 6, 2017 in Miami, Florida at the opening of famed Art Basel Miami. The Seminar will provide an unparalleled opportunity for expert insight and career development. This full day of CLE programming offers a unique panel about dealing with damage to works of art. Register at http://www.fedbar.org/Education/Calendar-CLE-events/2017-Art-Law-Litigation-Conference.aspx.

Speakers Dennis M. Wade (Wade Clark Mulcahy LLP), Elizabeth von Habsburg (Winston Art Group), Gloria Velandia (Chief Conservator, Gloria Velandia Art Conservation; Chief Conservator, Art Basel Miami), and Natasha Fekula (XL Catlin) will discuss restoration and insurance matters related to fine art, antiquities, and collectibles around the world at the panel titled “Wynn’s Elbow: The Art of Dealing with Damage to Art.”

Seminar speakers specialize in providing legal and business counsel to galleries, collectors, museums, and exhibit organizers for dealing with damage to art.  Sign up today for the Art Law Seminar at http://www.fedbar.org/Education/Calendar-CLE-events/2017-Art-Law-Litigation-Conference.aspx.


Stacy Slotnick, Esq. holds a J.D., cum laude, from Touro Law Center and a B.A., summa cum laude, from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She performs a broad range of duties as an entertainment lawyer, including drafting and negotiating contracts; addressing and litigating trademark, copyright, patent, and other IP issues; and directing the strategy and implementation of public relations, blogging, and social media campaigns.