There’s a particular exhilaration that comes from being the winning bidder – the new owner of something valuable and unique. It may well linger until you next see your artwork installed in your home, your office, a gallery or a museum. Between this moment and that, it will need to move. Besides the physical challenges involved in transporting it from A to B, there’s a maze of admin tasks to manoeuvre through too: insurance, taxes, custom duties. Fortunately, there are companies that specialise in managing every facet of the moving process.
The Intricacies of Art Logistics
The dictionary defines logistics as “the detailed organisation and implementation of a complex operation”. Yet this hardly seems adequate when it comes to fine art logistics.
The fragile. The precious. The irreplaceable. Moving, storing, and installing them. These are the heart-in-your-mouth undertakings that fine art logisticians specialise in. Following every auction, they arrange to pack, transport and install (or store) each piece. It demands precision, infinite care and understanding the finer details of customs law, art handling and collection care. They may also arrange insurance, or recommend suitable conservators, framers or photographers if required.
By the way, if you’re visualising this all happening with a rectangular canvas, albeit a large one, you need to erase that image. The work they move could be a anything from a 90-tonne sculpture in hundreds of pieces, to a delicate twist of neon.
No matter what artwork you need transported though, when moving high-value pieces, it’s always worth thinking through the journey your piece must make to reach its final destination. The less frequently you need to move it, the better, not only for the artwork itself, but for the costs involved. Insurance is just one of the additional costs to consider every time you move an invaluable piece. Here are a few other things you might want to think about to minimise moves and keep costs down.
Take Advantage of Storage Time
If you’re remodelling your home or moving corporate headquarters and the final destination for your artwork is not yet ready to receive it, consider storing it in a secure, custom-built art storage facility designed to keep artwork in an optimal condition. Reputable fine art logistics companies provide these and can arrange for your piece to go straight from the auction house into storage. This is also an ideal time for you to restore or reframe the work if you need to.
Defer Paying Custom Duties
If your piece must cross international borders but needs to be stored for a while, consider storing it in a specialist warehouse that is under customs bond until you’re ready to install it. That way you can delay paying customs duties until you’re ready to appreciate it. You can also take advantage of this if you’ve bought a piece as an investment only and wish to store it long term.
If you’re selling a piece and want a potential buyer – or buyers – in another country to be able to view it, custom-bonded storage can be equally useful. Once it’s been shipped to the facility in the buyer’s country, the logistics company can arrange secure viewings there. For example, if you are based in Hong Kong, and you ship the artwork to a UK bonded-storage facility for viewing there, as the seller, you would pay no customs duties or VAT on the eventual sale. The buyer would benefit from not having to travel to view the artwork.
Make No Installation Mistake
Details are the currency of fine art logistics, and the more you can provide, the smoother the process is likely to be. This includes accurate measurements. Your auction house will usually provide these for the piece, but the company installing it will also need measurements related to the space where it will be installed, as well as for any entrances and staircases leading to that space.
It’s not unheard of for collectors to make costly errors when providing measurements and details of the works. So, if in doubt, or simply for peace of mind, always consult your art logistics agent.
Momart is a UK fine art logistics company offering international art transport, installation, and art storage in a specialist UK warehouse under customs bond in East London. They can also advise you on customs, construct bespoke hand-crafted art shipping crates, and recommend respected conservators, framers and insurers to care for your collection.