To begin with, you should all know that the best place to ‘store’ works of art is … on the walls of your home, so you can enjoy them! However, there are times when works need to be put in a safe place for short, or long, periods of time. The following is a guide to – a safe way to store works of art.
If your walls are not an option, then here are two choices. The first is to contact a ‘vault storage’ company that specializes in handling works of art. They will be able to pick up the work/works, properly pack and store them for any length of time. You want to make sure that the environment in which they store the art is stable. Check with them about insurance - do they offer it, or do you have to provide it? How long have they been in business? How easy will it be to access the works if you need to? And please make sure to get some references. I would not recommend placing them in non-climate controlled ‘self-storage’ facilities! While these will be much less expensive and easier to access, you need to remember that environmental changes will have an effect on the stored contents – some of which may be harmful.
If a suitable facility cannot be located, or you just do not want to go to the expense, you can store works of art in your home. If you choose this option, here is a list of things you will need to do:
1. Find an area where there is little daily traffic … we often recommend putting them in a closet ... preferably one that is in the main area of the house so that there are few changes in temperature and humidity. I would not place them in an attic, garage or basement, unless these areas are temperature/climate controlled.
2. Wrap each work of art that is going to be stored.
a. For artwork that is framed, we recommend that you first wrap them with bubble wrap or a storage blanket and seal it with packing tape. Please make sure that whichever one you use, it is pulled tightly around the work … you do not want this material to come in contact with the surface of the painting. Then you should place a piece of hard board (corrugated, Fome-Cor, thin plywood, etc.) across the front and back of the work and tape this together … now your artwork is ready for storage.
b. For artwork that is unframed, the first thing you need to do is place a sheet of silicone release paper on the front of the canvas, then wrap the work with glassine paper and tape closed. Then, place some hard board across the front and back (in this case Fome-Cor would be preferable since it has a smooth surface). Then use the bubble wrap or a blanket. Now it is ready for storage.
3. Next, make some room in the closet you have chosen and try to store the work/works vertically, rather than lying flat.
4. If you have more than one work of art to store you can stack one next to the other. If the works are of different sizes, start with the largest (front of the painting facing the wall) and work your way down in size.
5. Now close the closet door and your works should be safe!
The one point I want to stress is to make sure that you never let the packing materials (other than silicone release paper) rest against the surface of your artwork. We have seen instances where people have put blankets, or bubble wrap, around their unframed paintings and when they finally unwrapped them they found that impressions (or actual pieces from the blanket) were left on the front of the canvas.
Keep in mind that the surface of most paintings is covered with a layer of varnish. If the area you stored the work in does not have the proper climate controls and during the year it gets very hot, you may find that the top layer of varnish will get a little tacky and if something is resting across the front, it will stick to it … what a mess this can be.
If you take a few simple precautions, you will find that the works can be safely stored for years to come.
Previous Story Update
Back in June of 2001 (Volume 6 - near the end) I reported on an eBay shill bidding scheme that had taken place and that 2 people were indicted. In a recent issue of the Maine Antique Digest they reported that Kenneth Fetterman, the third man in the scheme, and the only one still on the loose, was arrested in Wichita, KS on January 11. In case you don’t remember the story, “They were charged with participating in a scheme to bid fraudulently in hundreds of art auctions on eBay, including one in which an eBay user was induced to bid over $135,805 for a fake Richard Diebenkorn painting.”
Additional Stories of Interest
It was recently revealed in a story by Daniel Grant for the Maine Antique Digest that Sotheby’s is suing pop singer Michael Jackson. It appears that in the October 29, 2002 19th century sale Mr. Jackson’s agents bid on, and purchased, two works by William A. Bouguereau for a total of $1.23 million. According to the article, “As the paintings were never paid for, they remained at Sotheby’s. According to Jackson’s Beverly Hills publicist, Marleah Leslie, Jackson had changed his mind about the paintings, because they “didn’t fit into his collection.” It will be interesting to see how this one plays out!
In an unrelated story in the same publication, David Hewett discusses a recent eBay incident. In February 2002 a New Jersey collector bid $40,000 for a work catalogued as an Edward Hopper painting titled The Yellow House. The buyer contacted the seller, after the sale, and worked out a plan to put $30,000 in escrow, send the seller $6,500 and the $3,500 balance would be sent upon inspection and authentication of the work.
Well, as you can guess, the work turned out to be a fake, the sellers were nowhere to be found, and the buyer was out the initial $6,500 he sent them. In January of this year the Madison, New Jersey police caught up with the sellers and charged them with theft by deception and with conspiracy to commit theft by deception. The pair was due to make a court appearance on February 4th in Madison … as I am sure you have guessed, they never showed!
Gallery Updates: We want to remind you that we will be exhibiting at the Chicago Botanic Garden Antiques & Garden Fair from April 11th – 13th. Normal show hours are Friday & Saturday 10am – 7pm and Sunday 10am – 5pm. Our booth will be located in the Annex (#810) and we plan on displaying works by Ridgway Knight, Julien Dupré, Édouard Cortès, Antoine Blanchard, Aston Knight, Sally Swatland, Heidi Coutu and many others. If you are in the area, please stop by and visit.
We have also added a number of new works by Julien Dupré, Louis Aston Knight, Édouard Cortès, William Mellor, Antoine Blanchard, Sally Swatland and Heidi Coutu to the web site.
Virtual Exhibitions: This month we have added one work to – Rehs Galleries: A Visual History… Leon Herbo’s La Charmeuse. This important example, painted in 1890, is from a group done by the artist during the late 19th century, paying tribute to the beautiful women of his time, and exploring their sensual and seductive nature. I know you will all enjoy seeing this work; please click on the title below:
Since our last newsletter we have sold a number of important works by many of our favorite artists. Most of these works have been added to their respective Virtual Exhibitions; among them were: Emile Munier’s Essai du l’Eau; four wonderful paintings by Antoine Blanchard – Théâtre des Variétés, Place de la Republique, L’Arc de Triomphe and Place de la Concorde; six great works by Édouard Cortès – Bouquinistes de Notre-Dame, Flower Market at the Madeleine, Aux Trois Quartiers, Metro George V, Champs Élysées, l’Arc de Triomphe and Place de l’Opéra; and Sally Swatland’s Summertime and Morning Surf, Nantucket.
Next Month: I will tackle the issue of --Transportation.