The Risks of Carrying Valuable Art on Superyachts: Looted Art

Duration 2 hours – 90-minute talk and 30 minutes Q&A

Did you know that certain cultural goods over 200 years old will no longer be allowed entry into EU Countries without proof that they have been exported legally from their country of origin? New EU regulation has been introduced to stop trafficking of antiquities looted from conflict zones such as Syria and Iraq which are funding terrorist activities.

ACREW invites Captains, Owner Representatives and Management Companies to attend a special session to understand and protect themselves against the potential risks associated with carrying valuable art on Superyachts.

Pandora Mather-Lees, a founding member of the Art Due Diligence Group who advises captains and crew in the care of art on board, will provide an update on EU regulations aimed at combating looted antiquities. She will give an insight into how these are trafficked around the world and often end up inadvertently on Superyachts.

This will be followed by running through a possible scenario that will bring the risks to life. Pandora will lead a group of six trusted experts through the scenario, bringing in each expert at the appropriate moment to explain how they can help with this element of the scenario.

The seminar concludes with a 30 minute Q&A session with the presenters, to enable you to discuss any points that may be of interest to you.

The Scenario 

Imagine that you have been cruising around the Eastern Mediterranean during the summer picking up and dropping off guests throughout the season.  After the last couple of weeks spent touring a number of the most popular Turkish marinas, you have been asked to travel to Antibes to pick up another group of guests. All has gone well, but as soon as you dock in Antibes, unexpectedly French Customs decide to board.

It seems they are taking an unusual amount of interest in some of the artefacts onboard and are asking questions about ownership and documentation.

There are some sculptures and ornaments that look pretty old, but you are not sure where they came from, what age they have or what value they are.  All of a sudden you find that a painting and an archaeological ornament are the subjects of intense questioning. You have no idea what to do and the owner is not available for questioning. You do not have any paperwork to give to the customs officials, but there is a shipping note from the Shipper and Customs Officials are asking more questions than you can answer.

Following a brief review of the artefacts by Customs Officers, it seems that they believe that the painting and one of the archaeological ornaments were stolen from a wealthy French family living in Paris many years ago. Their suspicions aroused, now they are also demanding proof of ownership related to the other archaeological objects and a marble bust, before allowing you to continue in French waters.

Worse still, whilst taking the painting off the wall to inspect it, Customs mishandle the work with fingerprints and graze the surface against a sculpture that looks like a toy, but might be quite valuable.

You are concerned about the safety of the other valuables onboard, with so many people coming on and off, as you can’t watch everyone.

After a few painful hours Customs finally leave, advising you that you can’t leave port until everything is resolved and the crew wants to go ashore for refreshment. Shortly after, you receive word that the local newspapers somehow managed to get wind of the situation and are waiting in the marina, asking questions and photographing the Yacht and its crew. Privacy and reputation are vital for the owner as there was an incident the previous year and you want to avoid damaging news.

As a result of all the unexpected drama, you can’t help wondering why the owner chooses to have such valuables onboard. With the need to potentially having to prove ownership to any number of customs officials, and the risk of damaging them, you ask yourself if there is a better solution?


If you are Crew: Register through this page.

If you are a Business Professional: RSVP to corinna@acrew.com before 11th September.

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