/ Shipping art is getting expensive

Thursday, April 7, 2022
07:41 am CET
By Ronny Waburek

Shipping Art is Getting Expensive

International Fairs are Under Pressure

Thursday, April 7, 2022, 07:41 am CET
By Ronny Waburek

Shipping art is getting expensive

Shipping art is getting expensive

These are hard times for all those who earn their money with trade fairs. It's no different in the art world than in other sectors of the economy - perhaps it's even worse in the art world. That's because the major players in this market play on an international stage. The fierce competition between the trade fairs is an indication of this. Global exchange has recently been severely restricted not only by the pandemic. Currently, there are many other problems as well.

Above all, the rising price of oil is having a negative impact on the art business. The tense situation caused by the Ukraine war is causing oil prices to rise. In March, the price of oil rose by around 20 percent. In addition to the oil price, the art market is struggling with the fact that Russian airspace cannot be flown over. This, in turn, is leading to a huge increase in sea freight. In addition, the prices of insurance premiums are rising. And the shortage of freight vehicles and containers is doing just as little to ease the situation. In short, art transport from Europe to Asia is facing a huge challenge.

Art Basel Hong Kong: The situation is tense

There are hardly any comments on this from the major international fairs at the moment. With one exception: Art Basel announced to Art Newspaper that they are observing the situation and are in close contact with the galleries. A look at Hong Kong, which is the focus of the art scene not only because of the recently opened M+ museum, shows why this is so. Art Basel Hong Kong will probably be the first fair to clearly feel the effects of the crisis. Many galleries, Art Newspaper said, have already shipped their works. But Art Basel has negotiated free storage for the artworks with its shipping partners. Withdrawing from the fair is difficult for many galleries, as they currently have to pay the usual cancellation fees.

Victor Khureya, head of freight forwarding firm Gander & White, tells Art Newspaper how difficult the situation is for the shipping companies. He says he hasn't experienced anything like this since the 2008 recession. The same article also features Edouard Gouin, co-founder of Convelio, a logistics company that transports art. Gouin says a Chinese customer was recently charged $58,000 to ship a container to northern Europe - it would have cost just $3,000 in early 2021.

The shipping companies' big business

The winners of the crisis are, as you might expect, the shipping companies. Just to give one example: The drastic increase in freight rates at sea helped Germany's largest shipping company, Hapag-Lloyd, achieve record earnings last year. As the listed Hamburg-based company announced, earnings before interest and taxes (Ebit) increased six-fold to 8.1 billion euros, after Hapag-Lloyd had reported just 1.3 billion the year before. At also 8.1 billion euros, net profit was even around nine times higher than in 2020.

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Ronny Waburek
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