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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

MOMART DISPUTE REVEALS HAZARDS OF SHIPPING ART


Momart dispute reveals hazards of shipping art
Call a specialist, you could get a commercial courier

By Cristina Ruiz. From Market, Issue 229, November 2011
Published online: 03 November 2011

A British gallery is in dispute with the leading art shipping company Momart following the loss of a crate full of contemporary art at the Hong Kong art fair, ArtHK, in May.

The gallery, which is based in London, hired Momart to deliver four crates of art sold at the fair to local collectors. In turn, Momart subcontracted the job to a company in Hong Kong, but did not outline the details in writing. The subcontractor picked up only three crates; the fourth crate has gone missing and has not been recovered. Momart declined to comment.

Like most specialist art shipping companies, Momart reserves the right to subcontract services without informing its clients (its standard terms of business state that it “may engage sub-contractors and/or other agents to perform the services or any part thereof on our behalf without notice to you”). Normally, specialist art shippers subcontract jobs to other specialised firms that have similar experience in handling art, and this is what Momart did in Hong Kong. However, when time is a factor, specialist firms do send art with commercial courier companies.

John Croom, an art insurance consultant for Ecclesiastical, served as group insurance director at Christie’s from 1994 to 2007. He tells the story of a $40m Picasso that ended up in a FedEx depot in the US.

The client who had bought the painting needed it delivered in a hurry, Croom says. “The shipping department of one of our European offices went to one of the recognised art shippers and said they needed to get this thing out immediately. But it was a Friday night and that shipper wasn’t doing one of their regular shipments to the States, so the shippers put the Picasso into the FedEx system.”


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