In honour of the 40th anniversary of ICEFAT, we spoke with Isabelle Riedo, Director of Operations at Fine Art Transports Natural Le Coultre, and Daniel Blum, Deputy Director of Fine Art Transports Natural Le Coultre.

ICEFAT recently celebrated its 40th anniversary. What does the organisation represent for you today and how does it benefit your clients ?

Isabelle Riedo :  ICEFAT has always promoted the highest standards in all aspects of fine-art logistics. This includes everything from advisory, logistics and customs services to ensuring ideal warehousing conditions and suitable transportation, providing assistance with exhibitions and auctions, and supervising transfers on the tarmac. And the list goes on. The Association encourages each member to provide museum-grade services, which are required by museums for masterpieces and entail meticulous attention to detail every step of the way.

Daniel Blum :  ICEFAT gives us worldwide access to other firms, whose support we can count on for any operation involving logistics or customs. Members are carefully selected and must meet a number of stringent criteria. The network is also a valuable forum for sharing best practices and quality standards.

The convention celebrating ICEFAT’s 40th anniversary recently took place in Geneva. What up-and-coming trends do you believe will impact your profession in future ?

Isabelle Riedo :  Two main trends came to the fore during our discussions. The first touched on the establishment of a universal quality standard for all members, while the second examined the growth of the e-market, whose impact, albeit limited so far, is poised to take off.

Daniel Blum :  Quality standards, which have begun with the standardisation of packaging materials and sharing of best practices, are extraordinarily useful. They are much more difficult to implement, however, when it comes to warehousing and transport, as the conditions and prices in China, for example, differ substantially from those in Europe or the United States. Nevertheless, we are confident that certain standards will be established.

Let’s talk about the e-market. What does this encompass and what major changes do you expect ?

Isabelle Riedo :  We observe that works of art are already bought and sold online. That is nothing new. But packaging, transport, insurance, installation and customs services for such valuables are difficult to assess. As a result, they are not readily available through online platforms. This is without a doubt a challenge we will have to address in future.

Daniel Blum :  The e-market for these services is currently limited by the complexity of the documents and the guarantees required of a transporter once the purchase price exceeds a certain threshold. Or the object in question may require an export licence, special cultural-asset certification or a Cites certificate, which can throw a spanner in your timeline. On top of that, you have to take into consideration the size and fragility of each work of art individually. Confidentiality is also a major concern, and some lenders and collectors set out specific requirements that must be taken into account when transporting their valuables.

Isabelle Riedo, Director of Operations Fine Art Transport Natural Le Coultre
Daniel Blum, Deputy Director Fine Art Transport Natural Le Coultre
Fine Art Transport Natural Le Coultre, Geneva


ICEFAT (the International Convention of Exhibition and Fine Art Transporters) is the leading trade federation for fine art transportation and warehousing. Its 70 members, representing 33 countries, specialise in handling and transporting works of art, antiquities and otherwise historical artefacts. Their client base ranges from museums, galleries and dealers to institutional and private collectors and auction houses.