Billionaire yacht owners are desperately seeking advice to protect their priceless art from flying champagne corks and corn-flake stains

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Heesen Yachts

  • British art historian and conservator Pandora Mather-Lees helps billionaire super yacht owners to look after their art collections.
  • Mather-Lees teaches a €295-per-day course ($337) to help crew members understand the value of the art and how to seek specialist help. In some cases, the art on board is worth several times more than the yachts.
  • “Now that the rich are increasingly bringing their art collections on board their yachts it’s vital that captains and crew know how to care for these pieces,” she told the Observer.

British art historian and conservator Pandora Mather-Lees is an Oxford-educated guide to the super rich, who helps them with the important task of keeping their art safe at sea.

Mather-Lees teaches a €295-per-day course ($337) to help crew members understand the value of the art and how to seek specialist help. In some cases, the art on board is worth several times more than the yachts.

In this astounding interview in the Observer, she says: There are superyachts with “better collections than some national museums.”

“Now that the rich are increasingly bringing their art collections on board their yachts it’s vital that captains and crew know how to care for these pieces,” she told the Observer.

She also tells horror stories: There’s the one time unruly children threw corn flakes at a multi-million dollar Jean-Michel Basquiat painting because “they thought it was scary,” then the crew made it worse by trying to wiping it off.

She declined to name the owner or identify the artwork, but a Basquiat painting depicting a crazed, skull-shaped face sold at auction for a US record $110.5m in 2017.

sothebys

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REUTERS/Chip East REUTERS CME

Similarly, the insanely wealthy’s drink of choice – champagne – can be a real issue with cork damage causing very expensive restorations, in one instance after a multi-million dollar artwork was struck by the projectile.

Mather Lees also outlined how yacht owners had trimmed artworks to make them fit certain walls and how one patron had turned a priceless Mark Rothko work 90 degrees, which may well have turned the artist in his grave.