New York’s Ultra-High-Tech Art Warehouse and Freeport ARCIS Is Abruptly Closing After Just Two Years

It was billed as a cutting-edge art storage facility with attractive tax benefits.

Exterior of ARCIS. Image courtesy of ARCIS ©2018.

Just over two years ago, Artnet News took a private pre-opening tour of ARCIS, a high-tech, custom-built art storage warehouse in Harlem that was billed as the world’s newest freeport. Executives demonstrated the elaborate security measures that they believed would have uber-rich collectors flocking to the fortress to store their masterpieces, and presumably getting a tax break while at it.

Today came news that the cutting-edge warehouse, opened by the real estate firm Carye Equities for a reported $40 million and managed by shipping industry experts, is shutting down for good.

Executives did not elaborate on the reasons, but almost from the start, competitors whispered that spaces were not selling, rates were too high, and demand for the supposed freeport tax breaks proved far lower than expected.

To gain access to the space, visitors encountered an iris scanner, a vascular scanner, a mechanized holding vestibule, and other James Bond-like bells and whistles, put in place to protect the hundreds of millions, if not billions of dollars, worth of art that was expected to eventually be stored there.

Image courtesy of ARCIS ©2018.

Inside ARCIS. Image courtesy of ARCIS ©2018.

Bloomberg, which first reported the news, noted that Arcis executive director Roxanna Zarneger informed clients in a letter. “After careful consideration we have decided to close Arcis permanently,” she wrote, and asked customers to make arrangements to remove their items from storage immediately. The final day of operations will be October 31, according to Bloomberg.

Less than a year after the building opened, in May 2019, Artnet News received an email from a commercial real estate company stating that the building was for sale, but when reached for comment, an ARCIS executive countered that the building was not for sale.

In any case, it seems likely that the precipitous drop in business for many galleries, alongside the shipping slowdown in recent months, played a role in the storage facility’s closure.

It is not clear what will happen to the building and its customized features. A Cayre executive told Bloomberg that the building is still not for sale.

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