Monet, Van Gogh Stolen in Europe


European art thieves, and $163 million worth of stolen art, remain at large today as officials in Switzerland continue to piece together how four masterpieces were heisted from a Zurich museum on Sunday. “[It’s] probably the biggest art robbery in Europe,” said a spokesman for the Zurich police.

The three robbers, wearing dark clothes and ski masks, walked into the Emile Bührle Foundation on Sunday, just before a before the close of the museum. The collection is considered to be one of the biggest privately owned collections of French impressionists in the world. According to reports, one thief held a gun and ordered visitors and staff members into the main room of the museum, while the two other men removed four paintings from a different gallery. The masterworks included, Claude Monet’s “Poppy Field at Vetheuil,” Edgar Degas’ “Ludovic Lepic and his Daughter,” Vincent Van Gogh’s “Blooming Chestnut Branches,” and Paul Cézanne’s “Boy in the Red Waistcoat.” Police say they searching for connections to a theft of two Picassos, worth approximately $4.4 million, that took place in nearby Pfaffikon last Wednesday.

But art and expensive goods in people’s homes are rarely given the same security and insurance considerations that an equivalent piece would be given in a museum. Many people blithely assume that just as having a lock on the front door will keep thieves out, their homeowner’s insurance will cover some of their most treasured goods. That’s not always so.

Most standard home owner’s insurance policies limit coverage for items such as valuable papers and securities, silver, firearms, jewelry, furs, and watches. This limit can be as low as $1,000, sometimes for all those items combined.

In order to protect customers with a substantial amount of valuables some insurance brokers offer additional home owners coverage. According to Jim McGrath of the McGrath Insurance Group, Inc. “individuals can usually add their jewelry, artwork, etc. to their home owner’s policies, which is the most common way of insuring valuables. The other option is to purchase a separate valuable articles policy.”

One such separate policy is offered by The Chubb Group, whose Valuable Articles Coverage secures broad coverage for financial investments such as jewelry, collectibles, china, crystal, silver, artworks, furs, wine collections and antiques. According to Mark Schussel, the vice president of public relations for The Chubb Group, the valuable articles plan provides broader coverage outside the limits of normal home owner’s insurance. “For individuals with possessions of high net worth, valuable articles coverage offers broad coverage and security that other policies do not,” says Schussel.

Valuable Articles Coverage differs from normal home owner’s insurance because it offers itemized coverage which allows for items to be insured at full value, and up to 150 percent replacement cost for items that appreciate over time. Breakage protection is also offered. The Chubb Group’s policy also includes coverage for the “mysterious disappearance” of items that have been misplaced, coverage for items that travel worldwide, coverage for pairs and sets of items such as jewelry or pieces of silver, and 90 days worth of coverage for newly acquired items. Lose one diamond earring and this policy will replace the set, while most home owner’s insurance would just cover the loss of the single earring.

The choice on how to insure valuable goods is up to the owner and what works for their individual situation. No matter what insurance decision you make McGrath suggests having all valuables professionally appraised. “In both cases, an appraisal is required to show the value of the article being insured,” says McGrath. “Most, if not all, jewelry stores provide the appraisal when you purchase the item, or if the item was purchased long ago, the jewelry store will do an appraisal for a charge. For artwork, there are independent art appraisers that can provide a current value of the artwork.”



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