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LC1

Compensation Conundrum - Irreplaceable Artworks

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I have a small conundrum. My wife and I sent some limited edition vintage (1970s) prints to be framed in our former city of residence, on the recommendation of a mutual friend of the framer and who has had many things framed to a very high quality by them. We had seen and were impressed by their work.



The thing is, we just found out this morning that this person has thrown out 2 of the 7 prints with the cardboard packaging that I had carefully secured them in. There were 2 separate wrappings of prints sandwiched between several heavy-duty cardboard layers, and presumably she simply pulled two layers apart and removed one wrapping, without checking that this only contained 5 of the 7 and ignoring the other layers of the wrapping. It was fairly obvious if she had taken the time to check that there were two layers containing prints. The packaging was then promptly binned. She accepts responsibility but has implied that I should share the blame for not having told her that I wrapped them that way (which was for an obvious practical reason, ensuring maximum protection for the prints).



The thing is that these were quite valuable, and are more-or-less irreplaceable, unless we were to tour the auction houses of Ireland (artist was Irish) and London for several years and be prepared to fork out several hundred pounds for each one if and when they were to appear, or others like them by the same artist.



She has mentioned to us that she will make amends by doing some some of the framing work for free, but since she's a friend of a friend, we don't really feel comfortable asking her to compensate for the full cost of replacing them (which would be very difficult to do anyway). On the other hand, these were my wife's favourite bits of artwork (and we don't have a huge amount), and she is very upset to have lost them.



We have asked her to enquire with her insurance company, but I do not know how likely it is that she will be able to claim for them, nor how the insurance company would value them? There are online auction sites that show both estimate and sold prices for equivalent prints by this artist, so would this be sufficient to provide a value?



Ideally, we would like to pay full quote for the framing work, and then get back any money for the lost art through the insurer, but how likely is this?



If it were you, how much would you ask her to compensate for their loss? Full market value, a percentage?



Would be great to hear any thoughts! :)





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Question I would ask is, did you clearly state that you were sending 7 prints ?

Was the package marked externally with 7 prints, or did the shipping documents mention 7 prints ?

Did you mention 7 prints in any written communication ?

Yes to all those - email correspondence meant that she clearly knew to expect 7. We had described them in some detail so she could think about frame and mount colours etc. The packing note said 7 also. It was just that she didn't unwrap the packaging properly, and didn't check the number in the wrap she removed. Careless, but anyone might've done it, these things happen.

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Yes to all those - email correspondence meant that she clearly knew to expect 7. We had described them in some detail so she could think about frame and mount colours etc. The packing note said 7 also. It was just that she didn't unwrap the packaging properly, and didn't check the number in the wrap she removed. Careless, but anyone might've done it, these things happen.

TBH, I don't think it is a question you can expect anyone on here to reasonably answer.

You can ask people who you think is formally liable, but what you should do about it is a completely different issue. You've already implied that you don't want this to proceed on a formal legal basis, so only you know how important the relationships are, how much value there is in the item and what you feel is appropriate compensation for the loss.

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TBH, I don't think it is a question you can expect anyone on here to reasonably answer.

Fair point. I guess I was looking for what might be reasonable to expect/ask for, given the question of liability (should I share in the blame for not explicitly telling her how I had wrapped them?) and the difficulty in valuing the prints.

As someone who does work for galleries, I imagine that she must have some kind of insurance policy that would specifically include artworks, but I can't guess the likelihood of them paying out for a situation like this.

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Stepping back, is the money important?

A few hundred pounds is not pocket change but I read it as not being your main concern?

The main issues are that you can't replace them and you feel hurt that they didn't take better care of your possessions.. Right?

You've said there's really not a lot you can do about replacing the pictures so deep down you know that you will never get them back. Which leaves the bitter fact that they didn't take better care of your possessions. There's no right answer but maybe you could explain to your intermediate friend that you are a bit upset about what happened and a big bunch of flowers from the framer would go a long way to make up when you collect your prints.

If you get the flowers forgive and forget, if you don't then maybe pay in full and take a trip to the small claims court.

Really though, as the previous poster said, you are the only one who knows how far it is worth taking. In the final analysis the prints can't be replaced and the mistake, while incredibly annoying, was probably genuine. You can only hope they learn from it and are much more careful in future.

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How good a friend of the framer is your friend? If simply a business acquaintance who has done good work previously, then I would have no compulsion about asking them to compensate for the full replacement cost. It's an error on the part of the framer, and the loss is all yours at the moment. They should be insured for this kind of stuff.

If, however, it's a genuine friend of a friend who is basically doing it as a hobby/favour - then a much reduced price for the remainder of the framing/sincere apology might be the way to go.

Personally, the implication that you are somehow to blame would get right up my nose and lean me towards the first scenario. But theirs might also be a first gut reaction if they are worried about the financial burden of fixing the mistake as a hobbyist.

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As someone who does work for galleries, I imagine that she must have some kind of insurance policy that would specifically include artworks, but I can't guess the likelihood of them paying out for a situation like this.

This. She must have trade insurance as surely these people on occasion damage valuable pieces by accident or they get stolen. If she's not covered that's her problem. Previous auctions would be sufficient for valuation surely. Oh, and OP, she's not your friend so you should refuse to incur any loss - you made it very clear there were 7. In fact, the friend who recommended her to you would probably feel guilty about it and would not hold it against you to pursue recompense - I know I would in that situation.

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Thanks for all the replies. Have calmed down a bit since hearing the news!

Stepping back, is the money important?

A few hundred pounds is not pocket change but I read it as not being your main concern?

It was the shock of the carelessness, of course. But it is also inevitably about the money, to the extent that my wife is determined to replace them with similar pieces by the same artist, as he (Irish artist, Cecil King) is her favourite and she is mourning the loss. It will take some time probably, but ultimately it will cost us a fair bit to do this (£500-£600 most likely, looking at recent sold prices for his prints).

How good a friend of the framer is your friend? If simply a business acquaintance who has done good work previously, then I would have no compulsion about asking them to compensate for the full replacement cost. It's an error on the part of the framer, and the loss is all yours at the moment. They should be insured for this kind of stuff.

An old friend. But we've decided that this isn't really any concern of ours, we just don't want to appear to be being unreasonable, as we don't wish to cause any ill feeling. And yes, they should be fully insured, given the nature of their work, with her dealing with artwork much more valuable than ours, I would have thought.

Were we looking at mates' rates for the work?

If not, mates don't come into it.

No, not at all, haha! And it's certainly not cheap, this framing business. Failing the insurance solution, I expect we will ask her to cover the cost of replacing them via her labour. Though ideally we would pay her in full for the work and await an insurance payout on them. We haven't heard back from her yet, don't know how likely this is, but fingers crossed.

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