Millions of Pounds paid for Art lost in Fire (UK)

2In the evening of 24 May, 2004, a fire broke out in the Momart storage warehouse in London. The warehouse was in a large industrial building that also housed other businesses. The warehouse was sublet from a household moving company. The fire, which continued to smoulder for nearly a day, destroyed almost all of the artworks stored within. As well as works from other collections, items from the Saatchi collection of so-called Britart were lost.

Arson investigators determined that burglars started the fire in an attempt to cover up the theft of consumer electronics from one of the other businesses in the building.

Art industry insiders noted that the insurance value of the works lost in the fire would be many times their initial purchase price, and that a comparable rise could be expected in the market values of the remaining  works by artists whose works were lost.

The company that ran the art storage depot that went up in flames destroying hundreds of pieces of Britart may have paid out secretly tens of millions of pounds in damages to leading artists, collectors and insurance companies.

Art collectors that lost their properties in the blaze, through their lawyers claimed the storage warehouse which caught fire was wholly unsuitable for high-value fine art, had inadequate fire detection and was “a disaster waiting to happen. Estimates at the time of the fire put the losses to artists, collectors, galleries and insurance companies at between £30m and £50m.

Momart’s clients include the National Gallery, Tate Modern, Tate Britain and Buckingham Palace.

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