Five things to consider when displaying fine art on superyachts

February 9, 2015 Risa Merl

There is no denying the symbiotic relationship between superyachts and art. You have only to look at the number of yachts lined up alongside the Giardini gardens during the Venice Biennale art festival or that throng Biscayne Bay during Art Basel Miami Beach to know that superyacht owners are often art collectors too, and that the yachts themselves can be the work of artists. But what are the practicalities of decorating a yacht with art?

With all the possible challenges – from theft to damage – is it ever worth housing a fine art collection on board? Given that the art collection is often worth more than the boat itself, are yachts the wisest place to keep them? The question is divisive, it seems, and depends on the yacht owner’s attitudes towards risk, culture and yachting.

yacht art what to consider

A yacht’s art can set the mood of the interior

This year’s Superyacht Design Symposium will explore this question, examining how to manage the life of a yacht’s artwork and discussing proper humidity control in the talk called Craft and Craftsmanship: The Building Blocks of Luxury at Sea. This panel will also explore the interplay of art and fashion with a yacht’s interior design and what luxury materials and craftsmanship means in superyacht design.

For those who want to ply the waters with their favourite collectibles on view, read below to learn more about the practicalities of keeping art on board yachts.

Five things to consider when displaying fine art on yachts

yacht art what to consider

Roman Abramovich’s approach is to keep art on board his yachts that are high quality but not the finest he owns

Proper insurance and security is important for keeping art on board your yacht
A working alarm system is essential. Indeed it will probably be a condition of your insurance. The next consideration is whether the value of the art outweighs the value of the boat. Marine insurance policies are rarely standardised, so your art collection can probably be incorporated into it. However, if the art is likely to outweigh the value of the vessel, you may need additional specialist art insurance, in which case it would be rash not to consult a broker.



yacht art what to consider

Art on yachts must be protected from natural light

Too much light can damage a yacht’s artwork
Lighting is all-important, both directional and ambient. As on land, photography, watercolours and drawings need to be protected from natural light, so frame them using a highly protective anti-glare, anti-reflective glass and hang works away from direct light sources.



yacht art what to consider

The installation of everything from paintings to sculpture needs to be carefully considered for art on yachts

Install art on yachts the right way
You cannot simply hang a painting on board; it needs to be screwed to the wall. The same goes for fixing small sculptures and objects, which is where “museum glue” (also called gel, wax or putty) comes in: a clear product that fixes objects to surfaces (though not irrevocably) to stop them shifting in a swell.



art yachts what to consider

SnowbirD is practically an art gallery in itself with the amount of collectible art she has on board

Climate control to extend the life of art on board
The air quality and temperature within each room are important: humidity is bad for art, as is salt air and direct sunlight. Display works only where the climate can be effectively controlled and the elements shut out. And avoid placing anything of value near a vent, heat or cooling source.



yacht art what to consider

Superyacht Guilty‘s works of art include this neon piece by Martin Creed

Trust your art dealer when choosing specialists for your superyacht’s artwork
Every dealer, gallery and specialist house has its own specialists and quite often the artist will insist you use the framer of their choice. So the best advice is: take the advice of your dealer!


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