Christie’s to open Asia’s first high security storage facility

Singapore will be home to luxury auctioneer Christie’s International’s first fine art storage facility in Asia.

The Christie’s Fine Art Storage Services facility will be located at The Singapore FreePort.

The Singapore FreePort at Changi Airport is a Fort Knox-like vault that houses private art collections and collectibles from all over the world.

It is supported by Singapore’s Economic Development Board (EDB) and is the largest freeport dedicated to the storage of fine art and high value collectibles in the world.

Its shareholders include the National Arts Council and the National Heritage Board.

Christie’s storage facility will feature Asia’s first ultra-high security and climate-controlled storage for billions of dollars worth of art works that are expected to be stored in Singapore.

The development is expected to help jump-start other niche art services here.

Alain Vanderborre, President, The Singapore FreePort, said: “It will also spin off a number of new services that are not in Singapore today, in terms of dedicated art entrants, art lending and art appraisal services, fine art logistics services, as well as the ability to create in Singapore private collections which will be stored in The Singapore FreePort.”

Another of the spin-offs is expected to be new wealth management services in Singapore, such as art banking – lending which uses art pieces as collaterals.

The Singapore FreePort said the facility will build confidence amongst banks and grow the art banking business here in Singapore.

Currently, art banking services are understood to be unavailable in Singapore. Last month, the world’s largest wealth manager, UBS, shut its art banking division, leaving investors to turn to external advisers.

So far, the FreePort is expected to be 95 per cent occupied when it opens its doors later this year.

While no details of the investment cost of the new facility are given, Christie’s is expected to be one of the FreePort’s largest tenants.

Christie’s will occupy some 40 per cent of the FreePort’s current available floor area of approximately 22,500 square metres. And it is targeting high net worth collectors from as far as Russia and the Middle East to China.

Andrew Foster, Asia President, Christie’s International, said: “The art market over the last 10 to 20 years has risen incredibly in value. The fact that we’re in a bit of a retraction right now is not the important point.

“The important point is that people have extremely high value of art collections and high value collectibles around the world, and they need solutions for those collections.”

Christie’s managed US$5.1 billion worth of auctions and private sales last year.

Source : Channel NewsAsia – 18 May 2009

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