by LILLY WEI
“As a collector, I understand what collectors need,” said Steven Guttman, a real estate magnate and art collector. That turns out to be bespoke, state-of-the-art storage facilities for high-end artwork and a 21st-century level of services and care not previously available anywhere else. As the number of artworks increases exponentially, fuelled to a large degree by market forces, more and more private and public collections, museums, foundations and estates need a second place to call home. So Guttman has built one for them, to open in mid-November.
Called UOVO (Italian for “egg”, to be handled with care), the giant blue-and-grey, $70m (£44m), multi-level, double building of 280,000 sq feet is located in Long Island City, in the heart of an area of New York City that is rapidly upscaling. The storage rooms are from 50 to 50,000 sq feet and can be customised; the ceiling height on some floors stretches up to 20 feet, the freight elevators are huge, and the loading locks are engineered so that the moment the art arrives, it enters a hermetic, museum-quality environment, explained Tom Hale, UOVO’s executive vice-president. Formerly at White Cube gallery in London, Hale is part of a team that has acquired its credentials in the rarified premises of galleries, museums and art auction houses, as well as in the art storage business.
In addition to being a storage facility, the plan is for UOVO to be an archive, each work precisely documented, including its history, with the information readily retrievable. The works themselves will be equally accessible, part of UOVO’s enhanced services, with longer hours of business, and a rapid-response shuttle that will be able to deliver art to Manhattan or elsewhere in the metropolitan area quickly. “Nothing is impossible,” said its joint executive vice-president Christopher Wise, emphasising UOVO’s commitment to service. “It’s a post-redbrick gallery world,” Hale added, and one that is global. Its peripatetic denizens often need a place to show and even sell their work. For them, UOVO offers six deluxe private viewing rooms, the largest 1,600 sq feet, with a fancy kitchen nearby in case refreshments are needed. And for all this, Guttman said, “We are competitive,” which sounds like a bargain, at least for now.