The rise of street art and the risks they face

22 February 2018

Whilst street art is certainly not a new phenomenon, dating back some tens of thousands of years, there is no doubt that it has grown at an exciting rate around the world with an audience that is now in the billions.

In more recent years, street art may have been considered as a form of vandalism, and some critics will always have this belief, however commissioned works with blue-chip firms such as Adidas, Gucci, Paul Smith and Facebook, along with the construction of legal walls and organised festivals are on the rise demonstrating that street art has become both a valid and established art form.

This has led to dedicated street art galleries and exhibition spaces to open across the country, and in some instances, certain projects receiving government sponsorship.

With these world-wide tourist attractions becoming more and more popular, prices are soaring to the extent that property owners, whose walls have been transformed into a work of art, to go to vast effort and expense to remove and replace the wall, later selling the work at auction.

Ownership and authenticity are legal – and sometimes moral – issues that often arise, especially regarding works from elusive artists.

As with any valuable asset, ensuring that the right protection is in place is vital.

Public murals are of course going to be more susceptible to vandalism than your average oil on canvas hanging in a museum, particularly if used as a political object.

That said, there has often been a misconception that insurers aren’t willing to provide cover for any loss or damage to public murals resulting from acts of vandalism, however with some additional protections put in place, such as the installation of reinforced glass and/or CCTV within the area, this coverage is available.

With street art values now in the millions of pounds, theft is always going to be a risk, however by bolting a mural to a concrete floor would make moving several tonnes of weight far more difficult.

There are certain natural events which should be taken into account, such as windstorm, flood, fire, lightning and earthquake, all of which may be a high risk depending on where the work is displayed.

We can offer advice on how to best protect your artwork(s) along with providing flexible insurance solutions for physical loss or damage whether you are a collector, dealer, event organiser, or an entity looking to arrange cover for a commissioned work in progress.

For further information please contact James Muir, Partner on +44 207 309 8358 or email

This blog is compiled for the benefit of clients and prospective clients of companies of the JLT group of companies (“JLT”). It is not legal advice and is intended only to highlight general issues relating to its subject matter; it does not necessarily deal with every aspect of the topic. Views and opinions expressed in this document are those of JLT unless specifically stated otherwise. Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the content of this document, no JLT entity accepts any responsibility for any error, or omission or deficiency. If you intend to take any action or make any decision on the basis of the content of this document, you should first seek specific professional advice. The information contained within this document may not be reproduced and nothing herein shall be construed as conferring to you by implication or otherwise any licence or right to use any JLT intellectual property. If insurance and/or risk management advice is provided, it will be provided by one or more of JLT’s regulated companies depending on the territories requiring insurance and/ or risk management advice.