Sun, sea spray and salty air create the perfect environment for sailing passionate but not so much for the priceless works of art. Still, that doesn’t stop serious collectors from bringing Banksys and Basquiats aboard their yachts.
According to an art adviser who specializes in saving art at sea, works might even be better off on water than on land in some cases. “Some museums would kill for the climatic conditions you can create aboard a superyacht,” says Pandora Mather-Lees. A yacht‘s advanced air conditioning system can easily maintain the recommended 50% humidity and temperature of 64 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit for fine art. Many superyachts also have state-of-the-art security systems to protect not only passengers but also their property.
But creating a hospitable environment takes work. It’s not a good idea to place artwork near open doors or near water, which is why some owners plan the interiors of their yachts around their collections. And because both natural and artificial light can damage masterpieces, it is suggested that a conservator conduct a lux-hour survey (which measures a room’s light exposure) before installing any pieces. , even in rooms protected by UV-protected glass. It is imperative to have a fine art insurance policy that covers works installed on a yacht. The same goes for keeping the correct documents (or certified copies) on board to avoid complications with customs.
Artistic advisor Megan Fox Kelly notes that art should be installed to ease movement on rough waters, using devices that allow the work to be quickly removed in the event of flooding or fire. The safest route of all, however, is to exchange the genuine item.
“Many collectors own the original artwork but have created a copy to put on their boat,” Fox Kelly said. Robb Report.
Yet there are some that cannot be separated from their originals. Those who have been on board A+, the 483-footer owned by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al-Nahyan, breathlessly speculate that its hundreds of works of art are worth more than double the ship itself. If that sounds extreme, consider the superyacht Guilty, owned by Greek Cypriot construction titan and major contemporary art collector Dakis Joannou, whose exterior and interior were designed by Jeff Koons.
As quickly as owners fill their yachts with coveted works of art, experts rush to teach captains and crew how to care for them.
“Art isn’t safe when you have the ignorance of the staff,” says Mather-Lees. She points to Lucio Fontana’s minimalist cut-out paintings, which can sell for seven or eight figures a pop and currently have a following among yacht owners. But cuts in the webs create crevices that require professional treatment. “If something gets splashed on it, they’ll probably try to wash it off,” she says. Mather-Lees recommends that the captain have direct access to an art restorer who can quickly repair damage to a Fontana or any other delicate piece.
The biggest takeaway from collectors should be that if they’re cruising with Hockneys or Hirsts, their crew had better do more than just maintain the engines and mix the drinks. “You really need to have a maintenance manual for all of your items, and it all needs to be built into standard operating procedures,” says Mather-Lees. After all, art is the only appreciable asset on board.