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Lloyd’s Dodges Coverage of Missing Degas Bronze

MANHATTAN (CN) - The disappearance of an Edward Degas bronze dancer does not qualify for a $2 million insurance payout, Lloyd's of London claims in court.

Certain Underwriters at Lloyd's, London, says that the bronze, "La Petite Danseuse de Quartorze Ans," is the only piece still unaccounted for after five crates of insured artwork went missing on their way to the home of a San Francisco art buyer.

Rose Ramsay Long, an art dealer who does business as Rose Long Fine Art aka RRL Fine Art, allegedly arranged the sale. Long is not a party to the action filed on Nov. 26 in New York County Supreme Court.

Lloyd's says Long arranged for Luke Brugnara to buy the Degas, as well as works by de Kooning, Picasso and Luks. Brugnara, who was allegedly to place the artwork in his museum, is not a party to the action either.

When the five crates of artwork arrived at Brugnara's home at 224 Sea Cliff Ave. in spring 2014, "Brugnara refused to allow Long to inspect the contents of the crates, and later claimed that the artwork had never been delivered at all," the complaint states.

"The Federal Bureau of Investigation was able to recover four of the five crates of artwork while reportedly in the possession or control of Brugnara; the fifth crate containing the Degas bronze has not yet been found," Lloyd's added.

Lloyd's says it received a claim notice for the loss of the Degas bronze from its assured, Walter Maibaum, on behalf of the Degas Sculpture Project, on June 9.

Though the insurance policy in question covered losses until Aug. 14, 2014, policy exclusions apply for a "mysterious disappearance" or a "loss ... resulting from ... theft or dishonesty committed by ... any person to whom the insured property is entrusted" applies, according to the complaint.

Lloyd's wants its obligations, or lack thereof, judged by the court.

It notes that Brugnara had bought the Degas for $2 million, but that the piece was valued for insurance purposes at $1.5 million.

"Based upon the terms of the policy, underwriters seek a declaration that the value of the claim, if covered, is not more than" $1.6 million, according to the complaint.

The action names Modernism Fine Arts Inc., The Degas Sculpture Project Ltd., Provenance International Ltd., Sculpture Guild of America Inc., Walter Maibaum and Carol Conn as defendants.

Judith Frantz with Wilson Elser represents the underwriter.

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