RISK & INSURANCE®
POWER BROKER®: FINE ARTS
COO and Director of Finance Aon, Washington, D.C. Just Try and Stump Her As the leader of the Aon/Huntington T. Block Insurance Agency’s tandout 26-person fine arts team, Diane Jackson is always in the forefront of fine arts insurance activity. But 2011 was a banner year for Jackson herself as she worked hand-in-glove with the staff of New York’s Museum of Modern Art to
put together a complicated insurance plan to cover the museum’s historic Willem de Kooning
exhibition. It was the largest show ever assembled by MOMA, with total value calculated to be in
the billions of dollars.
Maria DeMarco Beardsley, coordinator of exhibitions at the Modern, said that just making the
placement was challenging enough. The exhibition’s insurance coverage came in a couple of
hundred thousand dollars under budget, sources said.
“I find her easy to work with, quite approachable and professional,” said DeMarco Beardsley.
“She has the savvy to know how to manage relationships between the underwriters and the
museum in an adept way.”
A top official at one of the largest art museums in the United States said Jackson was
“a model service provider.” “She has a gentle, agreeable way of dealing with even the most
complicated issues. She’s incredibly helpful, even to someone who is not one of her clients,” the
Of Jackson’s knowledge base, this person said, “It’s fantastic,” and then added jokingly, “I
haven’t been able to stump her yet!”
Senior Vice President Aon, Baltimore Performing Under “Massive Pressure” Lynn Marcin, senior vice president with the Aon/Huntington T. Block Insurance Agency, puts together complex international loan deals. But her clients value her ability to explain those deals. “Lynn takes the time to explain to me what things mean, how things work, what I can anticipate and what I can’t anticipate,” said
Patty Decoster, chief registrar at Fort Worth, Texas-based Kimbell Art Museum, which is a
major art lender. “She outlines for me what I often can’t anticipate.”
Last year, for example, Decoster was involved in a deal in which she thought U.S.
indemnity coverage would be readily forthcoming, but at the last minute the indemnification
“In the aftermath of that, what Lynn managed to put together under massive pressure
was phenomenal,” said Decoster. “The lender was very demanding, but Lynn wove together
a tapestry of insurance that ended up covering everything that was needed. She did it all
through private insurers.”
“We present up to 20 exhibitions each year in addition to borrowing and lending paintings
around the world,” said Don Urquhart, director of collections management at the Portland
(Ore.) Art Museum. “Lynn is creative and flexible and responsive in protecting the museum
from risk and in satisfying the needs of our lenders.”
“Lynn is always there for me,” said Heather Kajic, chief, collections management, at the
U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.
Vice President Willis, New York Stretching the Coverage Canvas Mary Pontillo, vice president of Willis Fine Art, Jewelry and Specie in New York, is known for going the extra mile for her clients no matter what their size. “We are a new company and Mary was able to help me from scratch: what coverages were necessary, what limits, even sharing
her desk a few times when our company’s office space was under construction,” said Sarah
Emond, director of operations with the New York-based appraiser Winston Art Group. “She
anticipated everything we needed and made the set-up process move swiftly and surely.”
If Pontillo, who moved from De Witt Stern to Willis this year, doesn’t know the answer, she’ll
find it, Emond said.
Last year Pontillo also provided an assist to the prestigious Gerald Peters Gallery of Santa
Fe, N.M., and New York. Pontillo helped the museum extend its policies to cover works
that were on loan to another museum, said Ana Archuleta, assistant to Gerald Peters. The
borrowing museum was in California and had no earthquake coverage. The Peters coverage
had no earthquake exclusion and Pontillo was able to extend that policy to cover the California
museum, greatly increasing the exposure of the artist. “We had several clients involved, as
well as several other galleries that we work with. So Mary had to orchestrate a bunch of work
coming from a variety of sources,” Archuleta said.
“Mary is very clear in explaining what she needs from us in order to help us achieve our
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Senior Vice President Aon, New York A Year of Bounty The year 2011 was a bountiful year for Aon/Huntington T. Block Insurance Agency’s Anne Rappa and her clients. In one case, she brought her extensive industry knowledge to bear to enable a major client to borrow pieces for an important exhibit. In another, she helped a client negotiate the bureaucratic insurance tangle it faced
as a state-funded institution.
“Last year there was a situation in which a lender required compensation for damage in
the course of treatment of works of art, which is really contrary to the general practice in the
insurance world,” said Robert Goldsmith, deputy director and chief operating officer of the
Frick Collection in New York.
“But Anne was able to find a way get our carrier to live without the exclusion and allow the
Robert Salmon, ACII
purchase of insurance, which enabled some very important art loans to come to the Frick for a
major exhibition,” said Goldsmith, adding, “Without Anne’s getting the underwriter comfortable
with this arrangement we wouldn’t have been able to secure this loan.”
Mary L. Sullivan, associate registrar at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond, said
of Rappa: “Not only do we get first-rate property insurance through Huntington, but also Anne
helps us make all our insurance conform with our specific requirements as an agency of the
Commonwealth of Virginia, which is not always easy.”
“Anne is a great communicator,” said Sullivan. She is very focused on relationships
between clients and the museums that might be negotiating with them.”
Willis, Potomac, Md.
Insuring the Masters Robert Salmon of Willis Fine Art, Jewelry and Specie, is known far and wide as a master of fine arts insurance. “Beyond being personable and interesting and very meticulous in the work that he does for us, Robert is very knowledgeable and abreast of everything going on insurancewise,” said Tina Garfinkel,
head registrar at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA).
Garfinkel is acutely aware of Salmon’s talents based on work she did with him in 2011.
The highlight of their effort was the insurance of the most highly valued exhibition the
SFMOMA had ever produced, a Gertrude Stein family collection of works by Matisse, Picasso
and the Parisian Avant-Garde.
Even with the successful award of a U.S. government indemnity, SFMOMA still needed
millions more in insurance limits. Just when a complicated layering of insurance looked like it
was in place, Japan suffered its earthquake and tsunami, throwing the insurance market for
the SFMOMA show into doubt.
Salmon recommended that SFMOMA bind the show insurance immediately, thus leaving
the placement and terms intact.
Mattie Kelley, director of collections management and head registrar at the Sterling and
Francine Clark Art Institute, said of Salmon: “We are under construction right now and we
are traveling part of our collection around the world. Robert was able to advise me as to how
best to do this and made me feel comfortable sending these treasures around the world.”