Art InsuranceOpinion

Good Title?

The American Land Title Association has – in its words – been “protecting the American dream since 1907”.

The association launched 54 years after the Law Property Assurance and Trust Society, the first title insurance company, was formed in Pennsylvania in 1853.

Nearly all US real estate transactions involve title insurance, but it took another 153 years before ARIS wrote the first art title insurance policy.

The Land Title Association’s strapline may be slightly overhyped (Is the American dream really just about owning a house?). But Judith Pearson, president of ARIS, says that the importance of ownership – of title – should never be forgotten.

“Ownership is the keystone for art to move from a passion purchase to an asset class,” says Pearson. “If you can’t anchor ownership you can’t sell an artwork; you can’t donate it; you can’t use it as collateral for a loan. You can’t even give it away.”

Pearson says that ARIS have expected competition since they launched. But so far no one else is writing art title policies.

This is good news for ARIS but it does mean that the Art Title Association will probably never be launched. This is a shame, as its strap-line could genuinely be: “Protecting art owners’ dreams since….”

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Alasdair Whyte

Alasdair Whyte

Alasdair is a financial journalist writing about art. He has focused on high value asset finance since 1998. As well as Private Art Investor, he also edits Corporate Jet Investor (despite knowing very little about aircraft) and Helicopter Investor (ditto).