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Handle With Care: Interview With An Expert Gentle-Man

Handle With Care: Interview With An Expert Gentle-Man

Let’s delve into some more art transportation magic, straight from the source.

We sat down with George Beriketis, a true gentle-man, as he is one of our experts in the field of fine art transportation, always handling it with care.

Let’s delve into some more art transportation magic, straight from the source.

We sat down with George Beriketis, a true gentle-man, as he is one of our experts in the field of fine art transportation, always handling it with care.

21 February 2024
Streem Global -Handle with care

Mr. Beriketis, it’s great to talk to you. Let’s begin with the most basic and core question: What is fine art transportation?

Well, it really is quite simple a process but at the same time a very complex one, because of the great value and uniqueness of the works we carry. We have to take great care in order to achieve the best possible packaging, the best transport conditions and delivery to our clients. 

Our top priority is to eliminate the possibility of wrong handling or damage during the whole procedure.

Can you elaborate on the specialized packaging and handling techniques employed for different types of fine art and delicate artifacts to prevent damage or deterioration during transportation?

A number of measures are taken at each stage of the procedure. 

During packaging, which is always carried out by our expert team, we utilize techniques and materials that are appropriate for each case. Depending on the specifications of the object and its destination, the packaging varies in the complexity and type of materials we’ll use. For example, a marble or plaster sculpture can under no circumstances be transported without a special wooden box. Once it has been wrapped properly to guarantee that the work will not be damaged, it will have to be fixed inside the box. 

You can imagine how complicated this can get when sometimes the sculptures are 2-3 meters in height and weigh more than 1-2 tons!

The paintings, although usually smaller in size, also pose great challenges, the most common being the proper maintenance of a steady temperature and humidity during transport, since they are usually very delicate and need special handling. 

The use of temperature-controlled crates is common and, in many cases, necessary.

In the field of international fine art logistics, what are the unique hurdles and regulations one must navigate and how do you ensure compliance while seamlessly transporting artworks across borders?

OB is registered in both leading art shipping associations operating worldwide (ICEFAT & ARTIM). This fact gives us expertise, ensures we stay up-to-date with the latest rules and regulations and provides us with a wide international network of specialized art transport companies that we can use at any time. The most important steps to follow in every transport to avoid technical difficulties and comply with regulations are:

Complete documentation of the work and photography upon receipt.

Professional packaging with the appropriate materials.

Issue of appropriate transport certificates required by the authorities and customs.

Transportation in the appropriate manner and climatic conditions.

Receipt and delivery by specialized artwork companies.

Unpacking and condition check upon delivery to ensure all parties.

And, most importantly, the works must always travel insured! No project should ever travel without insurance as the risk is always greater than the monetary value of an insurance cover.

 

In what ways have technological advancements enhanced the security and monitoring of fine art during transportation? How do you employ these technological advancements to provide the best transportation services for the artworks entrusted to you?

In the last 20 years technology has made huge strides in all areas of art transportation.

New packaging materials have been developed and others that were already available have been improved.

Track & trace and climate monitoring systems have been introduced, while recording devices have become smaller, with longer recording times. These devices give us valuable information about the condition of the works during transport and confirm good or bad transport conditions. One can now easily identify the "problematic" parts of the transport and be able to correct them for future transports.

The trucks have evolved technologically as well as the specialized structures on them. The modern air suspension systems that are mounted on the trucks allow the transportation of the objects on any kind of terrain with zero vibration. Also, the modern air conditioning systems maintain perfect climatic conditions to protect the works during transport.

What sets OB apart in providing fine art transportation services? Can you highlight any unique features or innovations in your procedures and how do these practices reflect your commitment to excellence in this specialized field?

OB has been involved in the art transportation business for 45 years. Our know-how is broad and unique. Our continuous investment in all areas that will ensure our qualitative and technological excellence is the secret to our success. More specifically, the continuous investment in our people and our in-house training in new techniques, technologies, and market requirements allow us to be pioneers. At the same time, the company has invested and continues to invest unabatedly in the construction of special warehouses for the storage of works of art, the continuous renewal of our truck fleet and the use of state-of-the-art materials.

At the same time, our participation in global organizations and conferences of art transport companies and museums offers us know-how and information on developments worldwide, as well as significant recognition in the global art transportation market.

Do you possess ISO 9001:2008 certification? What is the difference compared to AXA’s artprotect™ certification?

The ISO 9001:2008 certification ensures the application of a series of tasks and rules that our technicians and office staff are required to follow in order to process a shipment. This certification is crucial as it guarantees the smooth and deviation-free adherence to the established rules during transport

AXA’s artprotect™ certification guarantees that OB's art warehouses meet the standards set by the insurance companies for the proper storage, in terms of security and conditions, of the works of art. The rules relate to the construction specifications of the warehouse, fire safety, security surveillance systems, climatic conditions of the warehouse, suspension and storage systems and much more from a very long checklist. The process is repeated every 3 years to confirm continued compliance to standards.

It’s no coincidence that OB was one of the first companies in the world to be certified with this certificate and continues to hold one of the world's best scores in audits.

What do our customers gain from this? Insurance companies worldwide have this list (ArtProtect) and when someone seeks to insure their artwork for storage in our warehouse they will receive much better premiums than if they stored it in another warehouse.

Collaboration is key in the fine art industry. Can you share specific examples of successful partnerships or collaborations your company has engaged in with artists, galleries and other stakeholders?

You’re right to bring up cooperation. It’s not possible for any project to be successful without the cooperation of all players. Starting from the consultation with our client, the investigation of the requirements and specifications that the artist or conservator of the work will set for the transport, to our cooperation with our driver, the airline and our agent abroad for the delivery. Of course, the larger the project, the more complex it becomes.

For the exhibition "THE GREEKS: FROM AGAMEMNON TO ALEXANDER THE GREAT," which was successfully executed in November 2023 in cooperation with the Ministry of Culture and 12 Greek Archaeological Museums, we received and packed 270 antiquities. We had to coordinate our actions with the Ministry, the archaeologists and conservators of the museums who lent their artifacts, the Greek Police who provided protection and escort in all phases of the project, the airlines for the availability of space on the requested flights and finally with the Chinese colleagues and organizers who would receive, deliver and undertake the installation of the works in the Museum of China where the exhibition would be presented. The slightest miscommunication or non-coordination could have had disastrous consequences for the successful execution of the project and the opening of the exhibition on the requested dates.

For the exhibition "EXHIBITION CHERONIA," 31 museums in Greece and abroad lent 65 works of art for the exhibition that opened in December 2023 at the Museum of Cycladic Art in Athens. Constant communication with the organizers and the curator of the exhibition was of great importance so that we could then contact the lenders and fulfill their wishes for the packaging and transport of their works! Again, we had to be in consultation and coordinate with the organizers, the lenders, and their teams (curators and conservators who provided us with specifications for the transport of the works based on their condition and sensitivity), the Greek Police, our technicians, and many other factors of the exhibition! Once again, the works arrived at the MKT on time in perfect condition, and the opening took place on time with great success.

After all you've shared with us, I think the question begs itself: is transporting fine art objects an art in each own right?

I can't help but agree with your conclusion and that’s what makes our work so unique and interesting! I can say with great confidence that I can't imagine myself doing any other job other than fine art shipping.