When Utah philanthropist and life coach Bryan Miller unwrapped his latest find – a 500 million-year-old fossil of a marine plant – for display in his Salt Lake City home, he was devastated to find it in pieces.

He had purchased the six-foot-tall fossil, which he said reminded him of Hans Solo encased in carbonite in the movie “Return of the Jedi,” in August from a New York City gem gallery for $30,000, according to news reports.

“Destroying that fossil is like a tragedy for humanity,” Miller told reporters. He filed a lawsuit against the gallery, Astro Gallery of Gems, in December to try to recoup the value of the piece, but in this case it was the loss to history, as much as the monetary loss, that mattered, he said.

There are lessons to be learned from Miller’s loss, according to AXA Art, an insurance company based in New York City that specializes in insuring all types of valuable artwork and natural treasures for display or transport. With artworks now selling for millions of dollars, it is becoming more important to properly insurance works for transportation.

Accidental damages remain the most frequent cause of AXA Art’s insurance claims, AXA said.

“People are unaware of what can go wrong during the transportation of art and valuable objects,” said Vivian Ebersman, director art expertise at AXA Art. “As an insurer, we continue to hear heart-rendering stories of damages to important works which could have been lessened or avoided when best business practices in packing, handling and shipping are followed.”

AXA Art contends that implementing preventive techniques can make an enormous difference in maintaining the condition of valuables during transport, avoiding issues of damage or total loss when the art works arrives at its destination. The company offers recommendations to improve the odds of work arriving undamaged:

• Choose a shipper with a solid reputation and experience in dealing with a variety of artworks. Price alone should never be the sole consideration.

• Request a condition report at the onset of preparing a piece for shipment, which will make it easier to tell where damaged occurred if there is a problem when the piece arrives at its destination.

• Take photographs of the piece from all angles.

First « 1 2 » Next