Adventures in Media – Collecting and Protecting Unusual Art


Panelists will conduct an interactive discussion on past and present mediums used by fine artists.

Unusual art can take many forms. It can be a paintings done in an untraditional medium like blood or dirt. It can be a performance art piece that is only meant to exist for the duration of the performance. Whatever form it takes, unusual art presents its own unique challenges when it comes to collecting and preserving it. This session will explore some of those challenges and offer some tips on how to overcome them.

What is VARA and how does it relates to damaged works?

The Visual Artists Rights Act of 1990 (VARA) is a federal law that gives certain artists the right to control the "integrity" of their work. This includes the right to prevent the work from being altered or destroyed in a way that would be damaging to the artist's reputation. VARA does not apply to all artists or all works of art, but it can be an important tool for protecting unusual works of art that are particularly vulnerable to damage.

How do new and different mediums affect the way a work is valued long-term?

Unusual art often uses new or untested mediums, which can make it difficult to estimate its long-term value. An installation art piece that is designed to degrade over time may not be worth much once it has reached the end of its lifespan. As a general rule, unusual works of art are best suited for collectors who are more interested in the intrinsic value of the work than its resale value.

How is unusual art cared for and how it can be restored?

Unlike more traditional works of art, unusual works often require special care and handling. For example, pieces made from organic materials may degrade over time unless they are kept in controlled environmental conditions. Similarly, pieces made from unstable media like sand or ice may need to be periodically restored if they are going to last more than a few days or weeks. Depending on the nature of your collection, you may need to hire outside experts to help you care for and restore your unusual works of art.

Unusual artwork can present challenges when it comes to collecting and preserving it, but those challenges are not insurmountable. With careful planning and consideration, you can overcome them and build a collection of unique and interesting pieces that will stand the test of time.

Panel Discussion: Sam Pugatch, David Sleeman, Gregory Smith and Simon Hornby

Our art experts will also explore how unusual art affects aspects of valuation, security, shipping, storage, restoration, climate controls, title and authenticity. Together, Sam Pugatch, Director of Business Development for the Fine Art Department at DeWitt Stern; David Sleeman, the Director of Business Development at Winston Art GroupGregory Smith, Executive Vice President at Berkley Asset Protection; and Simon Hornby, President, Art Services for Crozier Fine Arts, will explain:

  • What VARA is and how it relates to damaged works
  • How new and different mediums affect the way a work is valued long-term
  • How unusual art must be cared for and how it can be restored

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Sam Pugatch

In his current position as Director of Business Development for the Fine Art Department at DeWitt Stern, Sam is responsible for overseeing a number of premier accounts as well as developing marketing and sales strategies for continued growth. He has created initiatives including an automated online program for insurance targeting the rare book market and a post-Sandy flood insurance program for...

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David Sleeman

David Sleeman is Director of Business Development at Winston Art Group, the largest independent art appraisal and advisory firm in the United States. Winston Art Group assists clients with appraisals for all purposes, advises clients on buying and selling works of art, and handles the management of clients’ collections. The firm’s 50 specialists cover all areas of fine and decorative art,...

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Gregory Smith

Continuing a family legacy, Greg Smith started in the loss adjusting and loss control business in 1987. He was trained by his world-renowned father, Harold J. Smith, in a firm called Smith Adjusters. For over 20 years, Greg has been enhancing and refining his knowledge in the niche markets of fine art, jewelers block, armored car and crime, from both the loss control and adjusting perspectives....

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Simon Hornby

Simon Hornby is President, Art Services for Crozier Fine Arts, the industry leader in Fine and Decorative Arts storage, transport and art collection management. Mr. Hornby is responsible for Crozier’s art storage division and its specialized climate controlled facilities in New York and New Jersey, development of new services, liaison with key clients, and working with insurance and other...

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