4 Questions with an Art Collection Security Expert

Bill AndersonBlog, News

4 Questions with an Art Collector

Unfortunately, art theft happens

In 1990, 13 works of art were stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. Works by renowned artists such as Rembrandt, Degas, and others have never been recovered—and the museum continues to investigate.

They are currently offering a $5 million reward for any intel on the recovery of these works in good condition.

Security is a major concern in protecting your art collection

We spoke with Bill Anderson, founder and partner of ArtGuard, who also serves the Gardner Museum as its art security provider. An expert in protecting private and public collections, Anderson selected a product called Magnetic Asset Protection (MAP) as a security solution for any stationary object.

“The greatest problem in a home is that the security is off during the daytime,” Anderson warns. “That leaves the home open to whomever has access: workers, staff, guests, family.”

An asset security solution like MAP is always on, even when your home security isn’t.

Anderson provided us with more insightful answers regarding 4 questions about setting up an at-home, asset-protection security system:

1. If I Have a Basic Home Security Provider, Is My Artwork Protected?

“There are many different levels of protection,” Anderson says.

Although home security systems provide a level of protection when they are on, MAP is a separate system. It uses a small, rare earth magnet that can be placed on any valuable, from an heirloom ring to a large sculpture, that detects movement and alerts a wireless sensor. Even when the home-security system is off, the device protects your assets.

Most asset security providers, including ArtGuard, have the ability to work with home security companies to create a comprehensive system.

2. How Do You Help Clients Decide the Level of Protection They Need?

“It depends on what kind of response the client wants,” Anderson explains. Referring to ArtGuard, specifically, the question becomes: What is valuable enough to spend $129 per sensor?

“If it’s a $200 item, it’s not worth it unless it’s irreplaceable,” he declares. “The suggested amount of protection depends on the number of pieces. It could be anywhere from one sensor to 100 sensors.”

Weigh the costs of the security system and the price or emotional value of the artwork to decide. For expert advice, we suggest contacting an appraiser.

3. What’s Better, Hidden Security Cameras, or Visible Ones?

If a camera is hidden, then a potential thief won’t know it’s there. If it is visible, it can serve as a deterrent even though theives can deactivate it.

“You can also have a very inexpensive camera that is triggered by the system if something is ever picked up,” Anderson suggests. “The smartest way to protect your assets is through video security.”

4. What Else Do You Suggest Your Clients Do to Protect Their Assets?

In addition to home security, Anderson believes that insurance and documentation are non-negotiable steps to protecting your valuables.

“The second step is to document everything about those assets you possibly can,” he stresses. Take pictures, measurements, and record all provenance documents in your secure, cloud-based Artwork Archive inventory account.

Having redundant backups of your provenance in the cloud is a level of protection that is very difficult to compromise.

Take Action Before It’s Too Late

“Insurance companies tell me that there are plenty of people living in apartment buildings with no security outside the front desk,” Anderson illustrates. “Anyone could go in and walk away with troves of art.”

Anderson’s goal is to make asset protection simple and understandable. “This isn’t going to disrupt someone’s life,” he says. Researching your options for an asset security system will greatly mitigate your risk. “People don’t think it can happen to them, so they don’t do anything until it’s too late,” he cautions. “They are much more vulnerable than they think.”


This article was first published on the ArtWork Archive website.

At Art Guard, we work with many galleries, museums and private collectors around the world as we strive to protect their art from theft, and we love to share art and security news. Subscribe to our monthly newsletter to stay in the know.