O’Connell, Robert

The career of Chicago-based art insurance adjustor Robert O’Connell links the seemingly disparate worlds of art and insurance. He discusses his job assessing damaged artwork and identifying forgeries and fraud, all the while relating the bizarre stories of what he’s seen and with whom he’s worked over the years. O’Connell also gives practical advice on understanding insurance and when artists should have fine art insurance.

“Having spent most of my adult life in this career, probably 99% of people in the insurance world know nothing about art. Probably the same percentage of people in the art world don’t know much about insurance. So it’s an interesting set of bedfellows where insurance companies are insuring art and yet they don’t understand it, and a lot of people who have insurance policies don’t read them because they’re complex documents written by lawyers. It’s rather an interesting niche to work in where I tell people that I feel like I’m bilingual because I speak art and I speak insurance.”

Robert O’Connell is the principal of O’Connell International Advisors, Inc. He has worked internationally as an art insurance adjustor for over twenty-five years. Notably, he was on the ground assessing damage to artwork in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. He studied art history at San Diego State University and California State University.