Deutsche Börse collection and insurance



This is the spectacular view of Deutsche Börse Group (German Stock Exchange Group) lobby/exhibition space. Spectacular, not least because over the art works (and the chatting staff), there hovers realtime quotation information. 

The other point worth mentioning is, Deutsche Börse maintains a collection of contemporary photography, with a good percentage of which mounted in the building. They do not intend to sell them and state their value as that which they were bought in at. However, in order to eliminate damage costs the works are insured, which indicates that they are evaluated by the insurance company yearly and insured against this (we could imagine, well incrementally increasing) value.

Insurance, in this case, is a fully technical apparatus, yet mirrors exactly the dynamics of value of art. 


On sale, or better, to be insured?

photo by author


Between May 1 and June 8, Storefront for Art and Architecture puts itself on sale: this is of course part of an exhibition, which is about real and immaterial properties that are open to be purchased for monetary returns. It also offered the chance to Shut Up Storefront – literally, by purchasing the otherwise opening hours. 

This attempt reveals what is at play between higher financial players (private and institutional donors) and non-profit art/architecture institutions, but also the perceived added value of the institution itself (imagine a Storefront director’s chair being sold at USD 200, while the air in between panels at USD 1,000.)

Inspired by Storefront, here is another proposal for consideration: a non-profit institution is to offer the public shares of the insurance (be it for real property or fictional property) of the institution, i.e. the public is to donate (and potentially be the beneficiary of, if calculated out well,) the insurance of exhibition/office/public space/blogsphere/creativity/etc. to the institution.

insured artworks in free ports

On Sep 1, 2012, The Economist reported on insured art pieces and revealed that in the world’s largest free ports (special warehouses) in Geneva and Zurich, “well over $10 billion-worth of paintings, sculpture, jewels, gold, carpets and other items” are believed to be held. The majority of these are never displayed.

Several facts in this piece of news prompt the definition of value. Surely, there is a clear manifestation of the correlation of their embedded (auction/exchange) value and insured value. But when they almost entirely escape any exposure to and engagement with the outside world (The Economist noted in the free ports “they can change hands tax-free”), as if maintaining by a stream of insider activities an ecology of value, what happens to their real value? (Is there value from objects looking at objects in a speculative realistic interpretation?) Looking at the other side of the coin, we could ask, what is the real value of public perception of art pieces that are exhibited publicly in the name of public goods?

Disclaimer: the blog entries under “Research Updates” are findings and thoughts around the theme of art and insurances, they do not necessarily reflect the views of 5urich.