5 things to consider when displaying fine art on superyachts

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Proper insurance and security is important for keeping art on board your yacht

There is no denying the symbiotic relationship between superyachts and art. You have only to look at the number of yachts lined up alongside the Giardini gardens during the Venice Biennale art festival or that throng Biscayne Bay during Art Basel Miami Beach to know that superyacht owners are often art collectors too, and that the yachts themselves can be the work of artists.

Wtih PAD London and Frieze Week offering plenty of yacht-ready works this month, many owners may have added a piece or two to their collections. But what are the practicalities of decorating a yacht with art?

With all the possible challenges – from theft to damage – is it ever worth housing a fine art collection on board? Given that the art collection is often worth more than the boat itself, are yachts the wisest place to keep them? The question is divisive, it seems, and depends on the yacht owner’s attitudes towards risk, culture and yachting.

Proper insurance and security is important for keeping art on board your yacht

A working alarm system is essential. Indeed it will probably be a condition of your insurance. The next consideration is whether the value of the art outweighs the value of the boat. Marine insurance policies are rarely standardised, so your art collection can probably be incorporated into it. However, if the art is likely to outweigh the value of the vessel, you may need additional specialist art insurance, in which case it would be rash not to consult a broker.

"Insurance companies expect owners to employ a professional art management service to guarantee maximum protection where all possible negative influences are avoided from day one," adds Aston Milan Salcedo of Yacht Art Management. "Many countries also have strict laws to protect their cultural property so you may also face legal issues if you're taking an important piece of art out of a country."

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Too much light can damage a yacht’s artwork

Lighting is all-important, both directional and ambient. As on land, photography, watercolours and drawings need to be protected from natural light, so frame them using a highly protective anti-glare, anti-reflective glass and hang works away from direct light sources. Raffaele Costa, owner of Sea Force One, uses carefully deployed lighting aboard his yacht to ensure maximum impact with minimum damage.

However, aside from avoiding harmful UV rays, light can also play a key role in the way your art is displayed and viewed. "To create perfect illumination of the colours in the artwork a specific LED light system in the appropriate range of colours is necessary," advises Milan Salcedo. "Due to the limited ceiling height in a yacht we highly recommend working with an interior designer early on in the process."

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Install art on yachts the right way

You cannot simply hang a painting on board; it needs to be screwed to the wall. The same goes for fixing small sculptures and objects, which is where “museum glue” (also called gel, wax or putty) comes in: a clear product that fixes objects to surfaces (though not irrevocably) to stop them shifting in a swell. "Even with six metre waves in the Gulf of Lyon nothing really moved," Raffaele Costa says in testament to the skill of the team who installed the numerous artworks on board his 53 metre Mariotti yacht.

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Climate control to extend the life of art on board

The air quality and temperature within each room is important: humidity is bad for art, as is salt air and direct sunlight. "You always have to be aware of humidity and heat on board," explains Milan Salcedo. "Strict insurance requirements mean even museums have to fulfil high standards before important pieces are allowed to be shown and your yacht is no different. Special climate boxes are needed for transportation and you may need to install an alarm system to alert you to atmospheric changes."

Display works only where the climate can be effectively controlled and the elements shut out. And avoid placing anything of value near a vent, heat or cooling source. Superyacht Revelry (ex-SnowbirD, pictured) achieves this effortlessly thanks to panelled walls and artworks include pieces by Alexander Calder, Ellsworth Kelly and Richard Diebenkorn.

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Trust your art dealer when choosing specialists for your superyacht’s artwork

Every dealer, gallery and specialist house has its own specialists and quite often the artist will insist you use the framer of their choice. So the best advice is: take the advice of your dealer! "Limited space and technical classifications have a major influence of the display of an artwork," says Milan Salcedo. "Seek qualified advice before buying so you can plan the perfect surroundings for existing pieces or choose the perfect piece for an existing surrounding. Art is nice to have, but it has to have the best possible setting to inspire."

Your dealer is also more likely to be able to suggest artists which complement each other. For example, superyacht Guilty's Jeff Koons-designed hull is complemented by modern works by artists such as Martin Creed (pictured above).

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