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How long ago did she leave the items with you?
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Many thanks for your patience. If the paintings were left in your care (i.e. you had accepted responsibility by taking possession of them) you would have had a duty to look after them. If you, or anyone working under you, was negligent in the process and caused damage to these paintings then there could indeed be a potential liability on your part. The issue really is whether the painting was damaged whilst n your care and it was done through a deliberate or negligent act. Also you would only be responsible for paying her for the value of the damages, or what it would cost to repair it. So she cannot make a profit out of you.
At this stage she has only made an informal request. You are not in any way obliged to pay that. You can refuse to and reuse to accept any liability for the damage caused. The only way she can force you to pay is to take you to court and win. If she does so she would need to prove that your negligence had caused the damage in question. She may never go that far, she nay just issue demands and threats but only if she gets a court judgment can she formally pursue you for compensation.
You can see if she is willing to go that far and if she issues a claim you can think again whether to try and settle with her or try your luck in court. If you were to lose then at least you would not be responsible for paying her legal fees as the matter would go to the small claim court where each party pays their own.
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