Superyacht crews schooled in the care of super art collections

Isn’t it a pain when your kid tosses his bowl of cornflakes at your Basquiat aboard your superyacht?

According to one art historian and conservator who advises billionaires on caring for their art at sea, there are manifold dangers facing on-board collections.

The tale of the Jean-Michel Basquiat painting used as target practice by the owners’ children is just one of several maritime mishaps that inspired Oxford-educated Pandora Mather-Lees to start a business instructing the super-rich and their crew on art awareness and handling.

A walk around the Monaco yacht show also convinced her there was merit in devising a specialist course. “I was walking around and seeing talks about everything from flower arranging and wine connoisseur lessons, but no one was thinking about art and assisting the owners with care of their collections”, Mather-Lees explained.

For €295 (£259), Mather-Lees offers a one-day course to teach crew about art collectors, the value of the objects displayed on-board yachts and where to seek help in the event of an art emergency at sea. Surprising as it may sound, there is a market for her expertise with some superyachts said to rival national museums in their collections. “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”, Mather-Lees said.

National Maritime Museum conservator, Helen Robertson, who also advises the mega-wealthy on caring for their art at sea has said the value of art on-board can be two to three times the value of the yacht itself. She has even suggested that yachts boast an optimum environment for collections. “Yachts can be very controllable. Systems for temperature and humidity can surpass those you would find in galleries”, Robertson insisted.

All the more reason for superyacht crew to be prepped and ready in the event of spilt cereal, flying corks from popped champagne bottles and in one case cushions being rugby-passed from deck to saloon and smashing a £75,000 lamp.

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