The New York Times has a detailed story—well, as detailed as any story about a high-security, tax-free storage facility can be—about the Geneva Freeport where insurers worry too much art has become concentrated.
Not to worry, others have twigged to the popularity of the freeport and are building facilities to rival Geneva and Singapore. Readers of this site will be familiar with Luxembourg’s ambitions to combine a freeport with art funds. The Times also reveals that Beijing may soon have its own tax-exempt entrepôt:
At the Freeport, construction has begun on a new, 130,000-square-foot warehouse that will specialize in storing art. It is scheduled to open at the end of 2013.
In the coming years, collectors and dealers will also have a variety of other high-security, customs-friendly, tax-free storage options around the world. Luxembourg is building a 215,000-square-foot freeport, scheduled to open in 2014 at its airport. In March, construction began on the Beijing Free Port of Culture at Beijing Capital International Airport.
There has also been talk of doubling the size of the freeport in Singapore, a gleaming, high-tech operation that is so sleek it’s hard to believe a “Mission: Impossible” sequel hasn’t been filmed there.
Of course, the Swiss were already on to this story publishing last week a similar take on freeports. The country is riddled with them, as Swiss Info reports: “Switzerland has always been a major player in the field, with more than a dozen free ports, the larger ones being in Chiasso, Zurich, Basel and Geneva.”
But the Geneva freeport has the distinction of being the locus of art funds that Luxembourg has its eye on:
“Most of the art owned by our fund is in Geneva,” Jean-Rene Saillard, the Geneva-based group sales director for the British Fine Art Fund Group, a highly successful art investment partnership created ten years ago, told swissinfo.ch. There are now 40 similar funds, 20 of them Chinese and most of them created in the last few years.
“But that doesn’t mean that the art remains hidden. The idea that art in free ports never gets shown is a myth,” Saillard continued.
“Owners have every reason to lend generously. When works they possess are exposed by prestigious institutions, they naturally increase in value.”
Swiss Freeports Are Home to a Growing Treasury of Art (New York Times)
Booming Art Market Bolstered by Swiss Freeports (SwissInfo.ch)