AXA Art responds to latest art thefts

COLOGNE , Germany , Feb. 15 /PRNewswire/ -- AXA Art, the leading global art insurance specialist, today announced that effective immediately, the company is offering to conduct security protocol assessments of museums in its key markets. The goal is to identify weaknesses and to provide feedback on measures that can be quickly implemented to deter theft.

In the face of the most recent major art thefts in Switzerland -- only a few days of each other -- resulting in heightened concerns within the museum community about increase in frequency of such major incidents -- the goal of AXA Art is to offer assistance to museums that seek to re-examine and improve their existing physical, electronic and manned security systems and procedures. This process includes an interview and physical inspection by an AXA Art approved security surveyor followed by recommendations to each museum to enhance its existing procedures. The surveys will concentrate on all aspects of theft and armed robbery prevention. The service is free to AXA Art clients internationally. A moderate flat fee will be charged for non-AXA Art clients.

"We consider theft a huge and increasing threat to museums worldwide and as the leading art insurer we are committed to help museums protect themselves and their collections," says Dr. Ulrich Guntram , CEO of AXA Art Insurance AG. "The joining of forces between a museum and its insurance company is an obvious first step in preventing future incidents."

Successful robberies are usually characterized by easy access to objects and quick escape routes. While one can ultimately not prevent an armed robbery, implementing effective security measures that include coordinated mechanical, physical and electronic procedures can serve as deterrents and hinder the success of thieves.

Some helpful hints include not hanging important works of art close to entrance and exit doors; tightly securing or encasing important works; not allowing cars to park near building exits and entrances; maintaining video surveillances inside galleries and around museum facilities.

Several years ago, recognizing the lack of standard procedures for security and facility management in the art world, AXA Art hired Global Risk Partners, an expert security firm, to develop a "Global Risk Assessment Platform (GRASP)" to create and manage a risk assessment system based on best practices. By the end of 2006, AXA Art launched its "Museum Security Program" in Europe and a "Warehouse Security Program" in the USA. To date, more than 60 warehouses and 150 museums have been audited.

While the GRASP survey is extensive and covers over 1000 questions, the present offer to audit museums will focus on security measures to deter theft and armed robbery only.

For information on this offer to AXA Art's clients; please contact Rosalind Joseph at 718.710.5181 or email:

About AXA Art Insurance

AXA Art is the leading global Art Insurer with international headquarters in Cologne , Germany , and offices in France , the UK, Spain , Italy , Switzerland , Belgium , Netherlands , North America and Asia. The company insures objects in every active area of collecting which extends from paintings, drawings and sculpture to rare stamps, antique furnishings and vintage vehicles. AXA Art serves a wide range of clients, from first-time purchasers to the world's most respected collectors, as well as artists, museums, galleries, corporations, and exhibition. In North America AXA Art maintains operations in New York, Atlanta , Los Angeles , Chicago , Dallas , Philadelphia and Boston as well as Toronto and Montreal . For more information visit