The New York Times explained the new security rules for flying art as cargo that is going to cause headaches for galleries and collectors. Museums have the shipment sizes, planning, logistics and time horizons to take advantage of a new government program to have art inspected in the secure premises of a museum environment. But galleries and private collectors won’t have that luxury.
The Times quotes John McCollum, of Stebich Ridder International, an art-shipping company, explaining that another complication the art world would encounter involved the frequent use of anonymous parties in transactions:
“You’re a dealer in San Francisco and you’re trying to sell a piece that happens to be in a gallery in New York, and the buyer is in Paris, but the guy in New York, for all kinds of reasons, doesn’t want anyone to know that he’s the one selling the piece,” Mr. McCollum said. Because the federal government requires airlines to ensure that cargo comes only from known shippers — those who have filled out paperwork or been identified in other ways as being legitimate — such hidden parties in art deals will have a much more difficult time remaining hidden. […]
“And so you have a Ming vase in special foam, and an airline subcontractor has to take that out and then repack it because he got a false positive on an explosive swab test,” said Mary C. Pontillo, an assistant vice president of the DeWitt Stern Group, an insurance brokerage that deals extensively with fine-art clients. “It’s a big understatement that that’s something you don’t want to happen.” In January Dewitt Stern conducted a seminar in New York for dealers to help spread the word about the new rules.
Jan Endlich, the chief registrar for Cheim & Read, the Chelsea gallery, which sends about half of its art shipments as commercial passenger-plane cargo, said in an e-mail message that “the beauty and horror of a gallery situation is just how quickly and last-minute it can react, and change course.” But he and others in the gallery world said that even large galleries were unlikely to set up their own secure facilities under the federal screening program because of the requirements of space and resources, and so will rely on art-shipping companies that have become certified screeners. This will add time and cost to shipping art, some of which is now crated in-house, and sometimes in collectors’ own houses.
New Rule on Cargo is Shaking Art World (New York Times)