The risks involved with buying and selling work in an opaque global art market with less regulation than other sectors has prompted one insurer to create a boutique service solely focused on pinpointing whether a buyer is betting ripped off. ARIS, an insurance company that underwrites collectibles and fine art, announced on Tuesday it is launching Know Your Title, which will take a deep dive into a work’s history for a prospective buyer, checking out everything from the provenance of the work to the reputation of the seller.
Mary Buschman, who is the president of ARIS Title Insurance Corporation, told ARTnews that the boutique firm came about after several clients wanted to know more about what they were buying—whether the work was a good investment, whether the seller was involved in anything unsavory—causing a spike in pre-sale inquiries. On one occasion, a $15-million deal fell apart when an ARIS client had the company look into the seller and found they had been involved in litigation and possibly fraudulent activities.
“Sellers should be aware that they can’t just ride roughshod over wealthy collectors. People have become much more savvy,” Buschman told ARTnews. She acknowledged that investigating cases takes time, but clients are willing to wait. She added: “Whether something is worth a thousand dollars or a million dollars, you need to go through the information you’re given. We slow the pace down and ask questions.”