Christie’s, the internationally famous art auction house, is expanding into the storage business. A Christie’s subsidiary, Christie’s Fine Art Storage Services (CFASS), has bought a 100-year-old Brooklyn, New York factory that it will convert into a high-security, climate-controlled fine art storage facility. The new fine arts storage facility, located in Brooklyn’s Red Hook waterfront neighborhood, will open in June.
In addition to fine art, the new facility will be used to store antiques and other special high-end collectible items. The former factory has about 235,000 square feet of storage space. The space can be custom-designed to accommodate any size collectible, from a small photograph up to a vintage car. It will offer several features designed to help potential clients feel that their art is being kept in a secure environment:
- The building is made primarily of fireproof concrete and steel.
- On-site security is available 24 hours per day.
- Biometric security includes fingerprint identification.
- There are at least 245 motion-sensitive cameras inside and outside the facility.
- Air filtration systems filter out gas and particles in the air, as well as monitoring the temperature and humidity of each unit.
- Units are monitored remotely by two separate security centers, 24 hours a day.
- All storage rooms can be monitored over the Internet by the unit’s tenants.
- A 1,000 kilowatt power generator offers backup electricity for all the facility’s security systems and climate controls.
- Christie’s provides insurance for fine art works, antiques and other collectibles.
The art storage facility is not an entirely new venture for Christie’s, which has run an art storage warehouse in London for 25 years. In May, Christie’s will also open an art storage facility in Singapore. Next year, it plans to open up a subsidiary near Paris.
Art storage has become a more difficult business to run in recent years. Christie’s takes great pride in maintaining the confidentiality of its clients and customers. But customs officials of several governments have begun to take a close look at art storage facilities, because they can be used by smugglers, art thieves, and money launderers to hide assets or to store stolen works of art. However, Christie’s says that it will not reveal any information about its clients, not even to its own auction specialists.
“We aren’t sharing Rolodexes,” CFASS’s international managing director, Joe Stasko, told The Wall Street Journal.