Sunday, December 26, 2021

International Art Transport 2.1

Art transport within the United States is not that complicated as long as it is properly insured, and you use an experienced art packer and shipper. A carton for a painting that a fork-lift can go through will not arrive in the same shape it left.

For International shipments it is not so simple, you need a company that is familiar with the ins and outs. One of the biggest issues is that of customs regulations in different countries. There are forms to fill out and knowledge of customs duties. For instance, an antique coming into the U.S. is usually duty free, but it must be at least hundred years old. JFK’s rocking chair would not qualify while Abraham Lincoln’s top hat might and there may be an exception for objects of historical importance. This is where your experienced and specialized customs agent comes in.

One of the companies we used to use when we were shipping to and from France was Chenue. No newcomer to the field, André Chenue founded the company in 1760. Chenue became the Royal trunk maker for Marie-Antoinette. They were responsible for packing her first layette which included a great deal of linen for mother and child as well as a crib. When all went well the company was entrusted with the manufacture of all cases, crates and trunks for transport and storage for the monarchs clothing. From there they developed the concept of being fine art shippers with a reputation that rests on delivering works of art safely and expeditiously.

We often take these things for granted, but that is a big mistake. There is always someone cheaper but as I have told friends and clients alike, “you get what you pay for”. You disregard that at your own risk.

Heading the parent Group ESI, a 100-year-old leader in the global fine arts shipping and exhibition industry, Amaury Chaumet, founded “ThePackengers” in 2018. Note the name is a single word and has an interesting spelling.

Hôtel Drouot the venerated Paris auction house founded in 1852 sells all qualities of old masters, drawings, books, jewelry, wines where many great discoveries have been made as well as many disappointments, has hooked up with this new company.

ThePackengers have crossed the Atlantic opening facilities first in New York and now in Los Angeles. They have made the very smart move of joining forces with the leading auction houses Christie’s, Sotheby’s and Bonhams as well as poaching some of their top shipping talent. What ThePackengers offer that all the other shipping companies do not is, according to M. Chaumet, their advanced digital ability. Online art sales have risen substantially and even more because of Covid. For instance, if you are considering buying a work of art from an auction house, before you have even put a bid on it you can get an estimate for packing, transport, and customs issues just by giving the company the details and you will have the answer immediately. Should you succeed in your bid, all will be taken care of with no more effort for you as the purchaser. Their mission statement is simple: “Instant pricing & e-logistics for unique objects”. Staff tee shirts say, “ThePackengers – Pick, Pack & Track”

We are living in a digital and technological age and every-once-in a-while it even improves on a business model that has already worked for several hundred years. We become spoiled as some things get easier, e.g. I have not had to use “white-out” once while writing this missive. Although this art transport service is one, I have never tried, it certainly sounds like it could make a complicated system easier on our nerves.

This is my last Missive for 2021 and on to 2022. I thank all my readers who have born with me and wish all a most happy and healthy 2022.

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