Monday, November 03, 2008

"I was in shock. I was in a black hole."

The Boston Globe's Cate McQuaid has the story of painter Nick Lawrence, who in 2004 "stopped by his studio at the Boston Center for the Arts and found that 20 years' worth of paintings and works on paper, totaling almost 1,200 works of art, had gone missing." Apparently the BCA determined the works were in violation of a fire code and, when Lawrence did not respond to a fire abatement notice (he says he never got it), they just moved it all, including some to "an unsecured shed out back." Some of the works went missing; others were severely damaged.

Lawrence is also an art dealer, so was lucky enough to have insurance in place -- "a blanket policy for all the art in my possession. Mine, and anyone else's." But "to get his insurance payout, he was first obligated to sue the BCA, in order to determine liability. He settled with the BCA right before Christmas last year, for $150,000. ... After settling with the BCA, Lawrence and his insurance company had to agree on the appraised value of his work. ... Appraisers for each side disagreed, and the dispute went to mediation. The case was ultimately settled in June, when a court-appointed mediator had the insurance company pay Lawrence $950,000 for his loss. That's a total of more than a million dollars in compensation," though he notes that "five years of legal fees and other costs associated with the lawsuit and insurance claims took a chunk out of the award even before he had the money in hand."