Tilman Kriesel of YAM Yacht Art Management outlines the risk levels, quarantine requirements and logistical headaches linked to the movement of artworks during the COVID-19 crisis...

The transfer of high-value artworks on superyachts is a very complex process, even under normal circumstances. This painstaking process is accompanied by a multitude of restrictions, in terms of technical, tax and legal issues, as well as their physical maintenance and upkeep. At the instigation of insurance companies, these processes often require certification, but all these requirements can barely be implemented professionally under the current restrictions.

The world's major marketplaces are suffering massively under the current regulations. Although the shutdown is accelerating the trend towards digital alternatives in the sales process of artworks, we too are working on a digital solution. But real viewings, in the form of auctions or fairs, will not be replaced by digital alternatives within the near future.

Art logistics companies are one of the main victims of the pandemic; they are currently having the greatest difficulty in officially importing works of art into a country. The driver is often not allowed to cross the border with an additional helper, which means that another team from the importing country has to take over and carry out the delivery of the piece. Therefore, the logistics and delivery times for the movement of artworks and their delivery on board is currently hard to accurately schedule.

Works of art cannot usually be disinfected adequately. The sensitive surfaces only allow for professional treatment, while the alternative use of UV light to disinfect surfaces leads to irreparable damage to the colour of paintings. A climatic box allows the works of art to be quarantined for the required period of time, because it is considered proven that the virus is ineffective after 72 hours at the latest.

Curation, installation on board or storage should only be carried out by experienced art handlers. Due to the stricter regulations currently in place, selected persons may only stay on board occasionally. Most damage occurs in the last few metres before the work is installed at its destination – the superyacht -so, as it stands, the necessary care can hardly be guaranteed under these circumstances.

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