A provisional patent for the Art Preservation Index or APIx was filed in July to standardise the measurement of stability risks of blue-chip paintings and other types of artwork that may deteriorate over time.
The APIx is a rating system published like investment ratings from Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s for the financial industry; to reduce and protect investment risks for fine art.
APIx scores are generated by scientific and historical research that is completed by a staff of professionals who base their artwork analyses on multi-layer assessments of the materials, their application, and the way they interact chemically and physically to determine thei sustainability.
“Art conservators know that a great deal of art being sold today may deteriorate quickly and cause the monetary value to decline precipitously in some cases,” said Emily MacDonald-Korth, an art conservator and one of the inventors of the rating system. “A prime example was the stunning deterioration of the Rothko paintings donated to Harvard University that irreparable faded after exposure to harmful light over the years.
“Experts know the materials Rothko commonly used to paint his remarkable colour studies are unstable. Yet a Rothko painting, almost certainly painted using similar light-sensitive colourants, was recently sold at auction for over $56 million. This new buyer, for example, would have been alerted to the vulnerability to fading if APIx was consulted prior to purchasing the investment.
“The Rothko case is one of thousands keeping art conservators in business today. Art is created with many materials that are visually appealing and seem innocuous but most artists, gallery owners and buyers of art know very little about the stability of these materials or how they interact with each other over time.”
The APIx inventors expect the rating system will illuminate this for the entire art world and should be engaged by many buters of fine art. Preliminary ratings are currently being carried out and interested parties are invited to contact the APIx to request a rating or consultation.
“Fine art is extremely expensive. Buyers of art like buyers of investments should seriously consider getting an APIx rating before making a purchase. A rating will be a modest additional cost to acquisition of fine art and it could prevent a financial disaster like the Rothko situation,” said James Korth. APIx’s co-inventor and father to Emily.