In the United States, a $410 million insurance battle – October 31, 2022

$410 million. This is the considerable sum claimed by the American businessman Ronald Perelman from his insurers concerning five major paintings, which, according to him, were damaged during the fire at his house in East Hampton (New York). , in September 2018.

Since 2020, three Perelman-owned holding companies, collectively known as AGP, have been engaged in a bitter battle with a consortium of insurers in New York state courts. According to legal documents, the most expensive of the five works is Untitled (1971) by Cy Twombly. AGP claims it is worth $125 million, 55 more than the most expensive Twombly ever sold at auction. Two paintings by Warhol are also concerned: Elvis 21 Timeswhose value is estimated at 75 million dollars, and Campbell’s Soup Can, whose value is estimated at 100 million dollars. For Switchboard Station by Ed Ruscha, one of the artist’s most iconic images depicting the gas station of the same name, the valuation is $60 million, while for Box Smashed Flat by the same artist, who represents a box of raisins from the Sun Maid brand, it is 50 million dollars. Perelman purchased the five works through art dealer Larry Gagosian.

Perelman said in court documents, according to the Artnet website, that these paintings had “lost their shine, their depth, some of their definition and a lot of their character” after the fire. The insurers – which have already paid out $141 million in compensation – deny the claims, saying the damage in question predates the 2018 crash and was also sued by Perelman, even before to have been able to complete their investigation. The result is a mountain of legal documents debating when to consider claims for compensation, or the methodology used to evaluate the works.

Perelman hired renowned art expert, Jennifer Mass, president of Scientific Analysis of Fine Art to appraise the works. She found that all had suffered “fire damage”, according to court documents. The complaint cites “extreme heat, smoke, soot, humidity and water” caused by the fire as sources of the alleged damage. The insurers have called on at least four different experts and companies for their own analysis. They claim that Perelman did not demonstrate any physical loss or damage. In addition, an insurance adjuster hired by the companies notes that AGP’s insurance policy does not cover “wear, gradual deterioration or accelerated aging”.

Mr. Perelman’s fortune is estimated at $2 billion, according to Forbes. In recent years, the latter is said to have sold billions of dollars in assets, such as works of art or his personal plane, as the pandemic negatively affected his business. According to its detractors, the date of the declaration of the disaster by Ronald Perelman is very suspicious. “It happens to coincide with a period when, according to the media, Mr. Perelman was desperate for cash to pay off debts that had come due”the insurers said in court documents.

In addition, the insurers note that the five paintings happen to be the five highest insured values ​​in Mr. Perelman’s collection, a strange coincidence according to them. Next step: an arbitrator has been appointed in the case.

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