‘Up to’ $100 million of art lost in attacks

The works of art destroyed by the 11 September attacks on the World Trade Center could be worth as much as $100 million, according to the art insurance specialists AXA Art.

This would represent the largest ever volume of art insurance claims after a single incident, the company said, the BBC reported.

AXA Art already put aside $20 million for its own art-related claims, BBC reported. But the total art losses could be worth much more-once claims from the surrounding buildings have been included.

One of AXA’s principal clients in the buildings is known to have been brokerage house Cantor Fitzgerald, whose offices contained 300 Rodin sculptures, among other works, the BBC reported. Artworks in the public areas of the towers included a painted wood relief by Louise Nevelson, a painting from Roy Lichtenstein’s Entablature series and a Joan Miro tapestry.

An AXA spokeswoman told BBC New Online: “There will be a global effect on the art insurance industry. “This is the biggest single disaster ever to affect the industry. We’ll probably see an acceleration of art insurance costs.”

The attacks also had a wider effect on the New York art world. The studios of the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s World Views program were in one of the towers.

One of the World Views program’s artists, Michael Richards, died in the attacks and all the group’s art works were lost, the BBC reported. The attacks came in the week when the new art season was due to start, and with it numerous gallery opening parties and Asian art auctions at Sotheby’s and Christie’s-both of which have been postponed. Other shows and sales and have been postponed or canceled, and art dealers and curators predict new difficulties in shipping and insuring valuable art works.

In Europe, where terrorist acts have been far more common than in the US, many insurance companies will not cover losses that result from acts of terrorism, BBC reported.

But in the US terrorist acts are usually covered-though acts of “land war” are not, BBC reported. Some insurance companies are said to be looking at whether the attacks on the World Trade Center could be classified as acts of war-to limit their liability for losses.

Dr von Frank told the Art Newspaper that AXA would accept its losses for the artworks destroyed on 11 September.

“I don’t think anybody in their right mind would exclude these kinds of terrorist activities. It is covered,” he said.