“Le Freeport” Opens in Luxembourg

Will the art market embrace the Grand Duchy?

Le Freeport in Luxembourg Courtesy: Le Freeport
Le Freeport in Luxembourg Courtesy: Le Freeport

The Grand Duchy inaugurated Le Freeport, a monumental free port facility right by Luxembourg airport on Wednesday. The four-storied building cost approximately €60 million, reports Le Quotidien de l’Art. It spreads over 22,000 square meters and is soon to be filled with artworks, jewellery, fine wine, and other precious goods.

Much is at stake for this small country, which has refocused on finance following the decline of its steel industry. Officials hope Le Freeport will contribute to the diversification of Luxembourg’s economy, “enriching and complementing both its logistics platform and its financial centre,” as Luxembourg’s Vice Prime Minister and Minister of the Economy Etienne Schneider said in a statement.

Sixty percent of the available space has already been rented out by companies paying between €600 and €1,200 per square meter per year. Le Freeport representatives say that goods can be transferred from the airport to the facility in two minutes.

confidentiality is Key

Like in all free ports, the stored items are only liable for import taxes when they leave the facility—and confidentiality is key. The new addition makes Luxembourg a much more attractive proposition for both art dealers and auctioneers.

“For a major international gallery, it won’t be unthinkable to have a branch in Luxembourg,” gallerist Alex Reding, from the local Nosbaum Reding gallery, told the QdA.

Although major players of the art market are only some of the free port’s potential clients, every effort has been made to entice them. Besides the stringent environment control standards, Le Freeport boasts services including a conservation unit and a photo studio. The vast volumes can accommodate large pieces, and some spaces can be turned into showrooms.

Business could even take place on site. Director David Arendt confided to QdA: “We’ve spoken to a major online auctioneer, which could potentially organize auctions there.”

Despite the calls for more transparency in the art market (“10 Things You Need to Know About Investing in Art”), the tradition of the free port shows no signs of slowing down. A 70,000-square meter facility is slated to open in Beijing next year.

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