Whether it be a painting, photograph, sculpture or piece of bespoke furniture, art is a personal choice and a reflection of an individual’s identity.
A superyacht, which is a work of art in its own right, can essentially provide a blank canvas for an owner to display his/her personal collection but is it the ideal place to exhibit unique pieces of artwork, which can sometimes be more valuable than the vessel itself.
Furthermore, with the challenges involved in housing such fine art on board, how practical is it actually for an owner to create their own personal floating art gallery?
From security and lighting, to insurance and climate control, even the choice of art dealer, placing exceptional and valuable artwork on a superyacht definitely poses some unique logistical and display challenges.
We look at some of the things owners should give consideration to before they choose to house one luxury asset within another.
Seek out qualified advice before buying any art specifically for a yacht.
Find a specialist that can plan the perfect surroundings for existing pieces and provide advice on where to put new ones. An experienced dealer will often suggest artists that complement each other to ensure consistency within the yachts interior.
A reputable dealer will also be able to assist you with getting your prized purchase to your vessel safely and securely.
It is also crucial to remember and understand some of the issues surrounding valuable art on board when it comes to customs officials.
Some pieces of art are not able to leave certain countries without permission or knowledge of the relevant custom officials; doing so can result in hefty fines or jail.
Also, be mindful of knowing the provenance of materials such as ivory to avoid items being confiscated and destroyed.
If an owner chooses to store a copy (or copies) of a piece of art on board whilst the original is kept safely on land, the copy must be clearly marked as a copy. It must be easily identifiable as a replica or it might be mistaken as a forgery and destroyed by local customs authorities.
You cannot simply hang a piece of art on a yacht with a hook. It requires an adequate installation system that provides protection and ensures it does not move during transit, which might cause it damage.
This also applies to small or large sculptures. Installation should be undertaken by professionals with the correct tools and materials needed to fix them to the desired surfaces on board.
Lighting can play a key role in the way a piece of art is displayed and viewed.
However, as on land, both directional and ambient lighting is also crucial to ensure its protection and longevity.
The location of any art on board is important – it should be kept away from natural light sources to protect it from getting damaged i.e. out of harm from UV rays, and may need to be hung using highly protective anti-glare and anti-reflective glass.
Protecting art from heat and humidity is vital. The quality of air on board is as important as being aware of any atmospheric changes, to ensure that any humidity doesn’t affect the high standards of important pieces – drastic changes to a piece of art’s surrounding climate can cause all sorts of issues, including cracking, warping, discolouration or even mould.
When it comes to the care of art and avoiding damage, it is important to promote best practice in the management of it within the on board environment.
Education is vital amongst both crew and owners on how to maintain the management of a collection in order to avoid unnecessary human or environmental damage.
A general lack of art knowledge can lead to inadvertent damage from harsh cleaning products or poor handling, which could lead to hefty insurance claims.
Crew do not have to be art experts but if they have some knowledge, they will be able to spot any damage to be able to rectify it as early as possible.
Adequate insurance and security is crucial when keeping valuable assets on board a yacht and a high-quality alarm system should be at the top of the list. It will also likely be a condition of the insurance policy.
Art that tends to be lower in value may be covered by the yacht’s standard insurance policy. However, where the value of an art collection on board is extremely high, or in some cases exceeds the value of the vessel (yes this happens!); an owner should always seek specialist insurance to guarantee maximum protection.
The above list of considerations is not exhaustive; there is much more to it that both owners and their crew should be aware of and learn.
Thankfully, there are a number of professional and reputable companies that specialise in the sourcing, transportation, installation, insurance and ongoing maintenance and care of art on yachts. Check out Art on Superyachts, Artelier, Artwork Archive, Aon Superyacht Practice and Saxon, who are among some of them.
Similarly, as with any high value luxury asset, consideration should also be given to the ownership of fine art. An owner should look at the asset protection and where such an investment sits within their wider estate planning objectives; artwork can often form part of the assets of a trust.
At Sentient International, we can assist with the establishment of asset holding structures and trusts to protect and preserve your prized collections for the enjoyment of future generations of your family.