Argo, a major Bermuda-based insurance company, has bought tiny ARIS which offers title insurance for artworks. Kate Taylor has the story in the New York Times:
“It presents the opportunity to do something no one else does,” said Mark E. Watson III, Argo’s chief executive.
ARIS, based in New York and the only firm offering such coverage, said it expected to sell its 1,000th policy in the coming year. It has also announced a goal of making title insurance standard in every major art sale. […]
For ARIS, founded by Lawrence M. Shindell, a lawyer, and Judith L. Pearson, a former Aon executive, who are siblings, the sale to Argo means ARIS will have additional capital to underwrite risk. Its insurance, previously unrated, will now carry an A rating, the highest.
The rating “makes the decision to buy the insurance very easy,” Ms. Pearson said in a recent interview. The most obvious title disputes involve theft, and in the United States buyers who unwittingly obtain a stolen work often have to surrender it.
More commonly, though, ownership is muddy for more mundane reasons: an artwork may carry liens after being used as collateral for a loan, or a seller may not have full authority to sell the piece, as in a divorce.
Title Insurance Concept Spreads to Art Sales (New York Times)