Tom Kirkpatrick has appraised his share of artwork -- authentic and otherwise. In fact, one of his vice presidents produces "Antiques Roadshow," and several of its appraisers work for him as well. He has seen incredible finds. But he wasn't prepared for the cache he found squirreled away during a post-fire inventory.
"I remember finding some incredible oil paintings that were stuffed behind an old boiler -- not covered, just there. Paintings that were $150,000 and $200,000 each, which in my world is something you would wrap and protect very well," he recalls. "The owner's reaction was, 'You know, I always wondered what happened to those. I knew we had more of them.' The fact that they were behind the boiler and not beside it is probably the only thing that kept them from being ruined in the fire."
Kirkpatrick says art forgeries are commonplace, and often the owner has no idea. Occasionally, schemers will knowingly buy a fake and insure it as original before it mysteriously disappears. Do they collect?
"It depends," he admits. "If it has gotten through underwriting and the policy was placed on it, if the misrepresentation can't be proven, they're paid. It really comes down to good underwriting."