Before you move to Asia or even leave for a a vacation, you should make sure to accurately appraise the worth of all your possessions for insurance purposes. If you do not catalog all of your valuables, the insurance company has no way of knowing if you really did own an art collection or what the pieces in that collection are worth. The following article contains some advice on cataloging and insuring your art collection so that is it safe from theft, fire, and accidents.
Step 1 in cataloging your net worth is to take photographs of your home, making sure to capture every wall and open every drawer. Even artwork that is not on the wall or is waiting to go to the store for framing should be photographed. Both art and frames need to be accounted for, as the frames are often custom designed and can be worth hundreds of dollars on their own. When the photographs are complete, save a digital copy offsite (such as on a sky drive) and print a physical copy for your safety deposit box.
Photographing your artwork isn't enough to protect it fully, as the insurance assessor has no way of knowing whether the art in your photographs is a relatively cheap print or the painting itself. For your valuable originals, it is necessary to have certificates of authenticity. If you bought directly from the artist and the artist is not famous, you can get a certificate directly from them. Just get them to sign a receipt that certifies the work is original and how much you paid for it.
For famous works of art by artists who are no longer living, your art dealer should provide you with proof of the work's authenticity. Any reputable dealer should be able to trace the ownership history of any piece of art straight back to the artist. Auction records and bills of sale from the gallery where you bought your art are all important documents regarding the art's worth and proof of your ownership and should be stored in a safe place (ideally a safety deposit box).
If you bought your art a long time ago, before it became popular, or if you inherited artwork from a friend or relative and you don't know what it is worth, you should have your art appraised. This involves taking it to a reputable art appraiser (check with the Better Business Bureau, local art galleries, or staff at art schools and museums). Art appraisers will give you the estimated current market value for your pieces, which you can then use to tell your insurance company how much you should be compensated for if it is lost or damaged.
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