Fine art Transport: Art market on the move

Fine art Transport: "The customer defines what is “Art”."

An interview with Javier Sanchez, CFO of ITS International Transport & Shipping Ltd.



The times when art collectors had very personal relationships with their gallery owners are over. Say the connoisseurs of the art market. Art fairs like Art Basel invite art collectors and offer them a complete "Red Carpet" package. Esteem, special care and party invitations, the collectors appreciate and enjoy their VIP status. Art fairs are flourishing, and thanks to them, the art market is no longer exclusively confined to art lovers and collectors. For years, this sector has also been developing as an investment market for people who have no emotional attachment to art or who are not necessarily art connoisseurs. Caroline Lang, director of Sotheby's Geneva, confirmed this at a lecture in Basel: "Today, in addition to traditional collectors, I also meet people whose interest in art derives from their desire to diversify their assets by including art in their investment strategy. They entrust me with the task of selecting works for them, the value of which will be preserved over the next generation. This way, not only do they increase their wealth, but they also leave behind a real and meaningful legacy.”

The art market has always been in motion and will continue to evolve and change. Javier Sanchez, CFO ofITS International Transport & Shipping Ltd, has been dealing with artists, gallery owners and collectors for many years and transports art objects worldwide.

In this interview, he gives an insight into the niche business of the “Fine Art Transport":


Mr. Sanchez, what is “Art” for you?

Art is also Nadal’s match point at the US Open… (laughs)

By this, I mean that the customer decides whether we transport "art" and how valuable the goods are for him. Whether I personally consider something to be art or not is irrelevant.


What makes the transport of fine art “different”?

Everything (laughs). We deal with artists; the artworks are their babies. They have a special relationship to the transported goods, and it is our job to understand how the customer thinks. In the case of art objects, we place even greater emphasis on understanding the artist's needs in order to ensure that we make the right transport decisions. We see it as our duty to respect and fulfil the special needs.


What should we pay special attention to?

When it comes to art objects, “special” is even more special. (grins) Every transport is unique and individual. The piece of art is unique. That means, one can insure a certain value, but if something happens, the work of art is gone. It cannot be replaced. At ITS, we want to handle every transport with the same sense of responsibility, and yet the feeling of responsibility for transporting fine art has a different dimension.


Does one need to be an art lover in order to transport fine art pieces?

No. It is even better if one has a certain distance to it. Of course, we try to put ourselves in the customer's shoes, but at the end of the day, our job is to transport the work of art from point A to point B. We do this with all our competence and expertise.



Please, give us an example

For Petrit Halilaj 'Kosterc, an artist from Kosovo, we have transported three trucks with soil. This soil was part of his art installation for Art Basel. It was part of the garden of his parents' house, where he had lived before fleeing the war. This soil was not replaceable, and for the artist, it had a very high emotional value. This soil came from a non-EU country, which required additional customs specific competences. In addition, the lawn growing on it could not dry out, nor could the soil rot. It had to be watered constantly, also during the journey, and once arrived in Switzerland, the lawn had to be kept alive until the exhibition. The requirements for this transport were very special. And we succeeded.


Don't you find such missions too complicated?

(laughs) These are the kind of projects we actually enjoy doing. These are the challenges that drive us forward. Special transports are our primary business. Hurdles and difficult conditions are our daily bread. We are also proud to have contributed a small part to the fact that thousands of people can admire a work of art at an exhibition.