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Watch: John Leonida’s advice for keeping art on board

A superyacht can be the perfect place to showcase your art collection but, as well as considering how best to protect your fine pieces from an oceanic environment, there are also important legal constraints to take into account.

As a sea-faring vessel that can cross borders at whim, keeping art on board a yacht can be very different to displaying in it your home. As John Leonida, partner at superyacht-specialist law firm Clyde & Co, explains in the video below, “To make it as safe as possible to have art on board a yacht one has to make sure that the paper trail for the art legally being on board the yacht is completely waterproof,” noting that written consent from the owner of the art for it to be placed on board is crucial.

Of course, many of these considerations are only now well-known because of past mishaps and Leonida points to Picasso’s The Woman’s Head, in particular, as a recent case of note. The painting was purchased by its currents owner at an auction outside Spain and then displayed it on his yacht within Spanish waters.

The artwork was then declared a work of cultural importance and when the yacht left Spain for Corsica it was boarded by officials and the artwork seized and placed in storage. The owner is now charged with smuggling with Spanish authorities calling for a four-year jail sentence, €104 million fine and confiscation of the yacht.

“This shows how it can go very wrong,” concludes Leonida, “We will find out what happens when the case goes to trial in Spain in the autumn.”

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