Art trips are commonly known as vacations to art fairs or exhibitions made by collectors or other arty people. The following article, however, deals with art trips in its literal sense meaning trips done by works of art. Aside from Berlin based galleries one will notice numerous booths run by galleries based in other cities or galleries located abroad whilst strolling over the Art Forum. Precisely the demand of booths by international galleries is an important indication for the significance of an art fair. Therefore the variety of participating countries is generally stressed by the art fair management.
Works of art have to be transported in order to show such pieces at an art fair. Transportation is dangerous for works of art. Special precautions are necessary depending on the respective item, i.e. regarding its size and substance. It should always be the main objective that art is not damaged whilst on a trip. The gallery owner should aim at hiring a carrier specialized in fine art transportation. An appropriate fine art insurance from nail to nail helps to smoothen damages caused notwithstanding all due care.
Cross-border art trips need to comply with customs regulations as well as import and export tax. It should be applied for a Carnet A.T.A., a custom paper for temporary exhibitions or other temporary use of fine art abroad. Carnet A.T.A. is not a prerequisite for cross border transportation, however, it is a fast track through the administrative proceedings. Once a Carnet A.T.A. is granted, identification has to be conducted. This happens quite literally by a customs representative who affirms identity of the art work that shall be exported and the respective description in the Carnet A.T.A.. If such identification has been certified, no import tax is charged upon re-entry of the art work.
Legal implications of the art trip tend to vanish into all organization and preparation in conjunction with an art exhibition, be it at an art fair or in another gallery, an art association or a museum. If nothing has been regulated by contract, the art trip is governed by statute. Statutes are highly standardized and do not take into account the particularities of the art market. Therefore it is advisable to regulate the rights and duties of everyone involved in such art trip in written agreements.
To begin with a detailed status report should be drafted in order to point out all particularities regarding properties and condition of the respective piece of art. If lithographs shall be exhibited generally a data sheet contains measures, year printed, name of the artist, size of edition, number of the lithograph and its theme. Important are such additional data that describe not the whole limited edition but the fine print that shall be exhibited. This can be done by drafting a sketch in which the exact location of tiny bends, waviness or even cracks are marked.
The work of art should be accompanied by the status report throughout the whole trip and signed bye each person involved. The status report should be amended by each alteration of the work of art during such trip. Those amendments aim at determining later on, where in the transportation chain the damage was caused. The following real life example shall illustrate the negative outcome if the parties involved do not agree upon certain terms of procedure. After an exhibition of photographs terminated, photocopies of the works were made in order to proof that the photographs were in perfect condition when returned. Instead of proofing the good condition the photographs were damaged by the ozone of the copier.
Those involved should agree upon terms and conditions of insurance during the art trip. Terms such as all-risk policies or insurance from nail to nail suggest that there is full coverage without any gap. It is, however, important to report any increased risk. The insurance company should be notified of a delay in transportation that causes an overnight stay if originally pick up and delivery should take place at the same day and such course of transportation was notified to the insurance company. Potential risk increases if the loaded carrier stays in a parking lot overnight and insurance coverage is at stake if such additional risk is not notified.
Easily overlooked is the risk of deterioration of the exhibit caused by minor damages as opposed to full destruction or loss. In order to avoid struggle with the insurance company it is advisable to agree upon a term that covers both restoration as well as any remaining loss in value. As usual all details should be put down in a written agreement. It is not sufficient to agree upon liability for appropriate insurance by the lessee. Such agreement is open to different interpretation and may cause trouble in case of damage.
In case of cross-border exhibitions it should be noted that unsigned items and multiples in editions extending 250 (in case of prints) or 25 (in case of moulds) are exempted from regulations for fine art. Notwithstanding its quality such items are qualified as trading goods and taxed and duty paid as such. The same is true for multi-media works and photographs; both do not fall within the tight definition of art contained in the custom statutes. Whilst exhibits are chosen those requirements should be taken into account and if possible other items send on the trip. In case of doubt it is advisable to complete the documents in such way that the art quality is eye catching even to custom officials.
Born in 1977, Yasmin Mahmoudi studied law at the universities of Cologne and Bonn, at the University of Lausanne, and at the University of Geneva, and she specialized in art law. Together with her sister she has founded her own office in Cologne, which offers services nationally thanks to its specialization in art. She is a member of numerous institutions, such as the Institute for Art Law in Heidelberg, the Institute of Art & Law in Great Britain and the Cologne Art Association, and she is a freelance author for German publications dealing with “Young Art”, “The Contemporary Museum”, “KUR – Journal for Art Law”, and “Copyright and Cultural Policy”.
Dr. Mahmoudi & Partners. Barristers. Von-Werth-Str. 44, Cologne, www.kunstrechtskanzlei.de
(Translation: Brian Poole)