The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is continuing to change the world in unprecedented ways, affecting all spheres of our life. The art world is no exception. Until recently, we all could enjoy art in real life and without violating the measures of social distance. Today, we have closed museums and galleries, canceled art fairs, postponed auctions, and inability to attend art classes and workshops in person.
The coronavirus pandemic has not only brought our cultural life to a pause but also greatly affected art logistics business. With the cancellation of most international flights and numerous import/export restrictions, it is almost impossible to ship fine art and antiques in current realities. Plus, since art museums and galleries are closed, many of the largest art logistics companies have been left without work. As a result, the entire industry is facing a time of immense challenge.
Art Logistics Realities
While many large international art logistics service providers have closed their doors, small family-owned companies are continuing to operate. One such company is Fine Art Shippers that has been open for business throughout the coronavirus pandemic, serving the art community and private clients in New York and beyond. According to the company’s representatives, normal operations have been greatly reduced, but Fine Art Shippers does not stop working to provide quality art logistics services to artists, collectors, dealers, auctioneers, and art market professionals while following the instructions of the health and government authorities.
Who Needs Art Logistics Services During the Coronavirus Pandemic?
Despite the global situation with the coronavirus pandemic, art collectors do not stop investing in art and objects of value. Moreover, they see it as a profitable investment as prices for some pieces have dropped sharply. Another important thing here is that online auctions offer numerous opportunities for art lovers to purchase works of art from the comfort of their homes. Besides, LiveAuctioneers, Invaluable, and other auction platforms are now becoming more and more popular, attracting art buyers from around the world; hence the necessity for art logistics services.
It is important to note that those art logistics companies that are still open for business mainly operate within a single country or even region. The fact is that to deliver a work of art from, let’s say, Paris or Berlin to New York is now a big challenge. Air transportation between Europe and the United States is now very limited, and you will hardly find a company able to handle such a shipment seamlessly in these difficult times. For this reason and due to many customs restrictions and delays, art collectors try to purchase artworks within the country of their residence.
Another essential component of art logistics in current realities is that it is impossible to ship very expensive and highly valuable pieces. Works of art that collectors buy and ship during the coronavirus pandemic usually do not exceed $100,000. The fact is that most of such works do not require any special transportation conditions, insurance coverage, or additional documents, which greatly facilitates the shipping process. As for the first-class pieces, many of them have been put in storage, waiting for better times to be delivered to wherever they need to be.
A Forecast for the Future
Art logistics companies around the world have been hard-hit by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The amount of work, as well as the income, has decreased substantially, but there is still the necessity to pay bills, auto rent, operating expenses, insurance, etc. Small family-operated companies are trying to stay afloat and to serve the art community and art business professionals as much as it is possible in these uncertain times, but doing that is getting harder each day. Besides, the more challenging the process of art logistics becomes, the higher its cost. The difference in price is not dramatic, but it is still significant for many people trying to save some money to get their families through the pandemic.
As for the forecast for the coming months, it is too early to say something for sure now. In the midst of all the uncertainty and confusion, only one thing is clear: the world of art, and art logistics in particular, will never be the same, and it will definitely need time to recover from the crisis.