Protecting Art Aboard Superyachts

Editor’s note: The authors are with Pandora Art Services, which offers courses for individuals working for art collectors and family offices with fine art portfolios. Pandora Art Services is now collaborating with ACREW to offer courses in protecting art aboard superyachts.

Superyacht crew face many challenges, including unpredictable incidents on board that test their resilience. These include managing a situation involving damage to paintings and other priceless art. Since many owners treat their yachts as floating second homes, they naturally want to keep their possessions close and discuss them in front of guests. However, art aboard superyachts is vulnerable to the elements, changes of climate, and hapless accidents. Unfortunately, most crew lack awareness of how to care for art and fix something following an incident.

Of course, crew shouldn’t expect to be art experts. But, they can incorporate specialized training into standard operating procedures. Here are a few things to keep in mind to protect art aboard superyachts.

  1. A lack of general art knowledge can lead to inadvertent damage from aggressive cleaning or poor handling. Many seemingly plain and insignificant items can be immensely valuable. Some art-history training can avoid hefty insurance claims for paintings, lamps, and even carpets (often priceless antique textiles in their own right). Guests can also damage items by spilling, mishandling, or clumsiness. Crew should know how to spot damage and where to go for specialist help in an emergency.
  2. Knowledge strengthens your crew’s relationship with you. Understanding the high-stakes global art market allows a glimpse into your motivation and passion as an art collector. It also raises awareness of your possessions’ intrinsic value. This results in more confidence to interact with you, and follow instruction regarding the assets. Furthermore, it helps your crew better liaise with those in the art world as your representative.
  3. Packing and transporting valuables are the biggest hazards. Crew should know the basics, such as when and how to use a professional logistics company, how to handle customs and export procedures, and how to file a condition report for insurance.
  4. Naturally, climate risks exist. Sunlight, humidity, sea air, and temperature are dangerous to sensitive works of art aboard superyachts. Therefore, climate control, correct placement onboard, and artificial lighting are important.
  5. Knowledge is power. With some knowledge of the art aboard, your crew will enjoy their environment more. In some cases, they’ll be able to discuss the object with an enquiring guest knowledgeably. Perhaps most importantly, you’ll have peace of mind that your crew can care effectively for your most precious objects.

If you’ll be in the UK on March 1, the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, England is hosting the Art at Sea Symposium. This daylong event specializes in art aboard superyachts. In addition, the museum is offering accredited courses at its training center, teaching aspects of a working maritime environment. The museum and Pandora Art Services offer custom packages for superyachts in art conservation and crew training, respectively. 

One thought on “Protecting Art Aboard Superyachts

  1. I would question the ethics of the National Maritime Museum which displays a public collection hosting an event aimed at millionaire tax dodgers with luxury yachts who have stolen or purchased art work for tax avoidance purposes. The museum is funded by the government through the uk tax payer and they are wrong to think that this might help their fund raising strategy. Millionaire tax dodging yacht owners are very mean with money and not interested in funding cultural institutions.

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