Singapore’s Fort Knox for fine art and collectibles

The Singapore FreePort is a highly secure storage vault for high value collectibles. Modelled after the freeports in Switzerland, it provides wealthy collectors with a facility for long term storage and trade of their collections without attracting customs duties or Goods and Services Tax.

The Singapore FreePort lobby, featuring a gigantic cage-like sculpture.
At the official opening of the Singapore FreePort on 18 May 2010, Senior Minister of State for Trade & Industry and Education Mr S Iswaran noted that more investors were choosing to put their money in high-value “investments of passion”, such as collectibles and fine art. With Singapore’s strategic location, sound infrastructure and excellent connectivity to key markets in Asia, he said “Singapore is an ideal location for companies seeking to tap into the arts and collectibles trade in the region.” In turn, this would help fuel the development of the arts and creative businesses in Singapore, and strengthen its role as a global arts hub.

Said Mr Alain Vandenborre, President and co-founder of The Singapore FreePort Pte Ltd, “The Singapore FreePort will be the perfect partner of international fine art collectors and dealers, auction houses, diamond dealers, museums, investors and sovereign state collections looking for a safe, stable and secure location to stare and trade their valuable collections and treasures.”

The Singapore FreePort offers secure storage for assets ranging from fine art, jewellery, watches, diamonds, precious metals, antiques, vintage cars, carpets, wines to cigars.

Offering convenience and flexibility
Located adjacent to the Changi Airport, goods flown into Singapore can be securely transported to the FreePort via internal airport roads. Its close proximity to the airport also offers international collectors convenient access to their stored valuables.

Singapore Customs, in collaboration with the Economic Development Board and the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority, granted FreePort certain facilitation for customs formalities to ensure the smooth flow of operations.

The facility enjoys free trade zone status. Hence, clients who store their valuables on its premises need not pay duties or taxes on their collections as long as they stay within the FreePort. In addition, logistics providers are not required to lodge a banker’s guarantee to operate a Singapore Customs licensing scheme within the FreePort.

Retail trade and auctions of the collectables can take place within the FreePort premises. Collectors may also temporarily move their stored works to the city’s museums for exhibitions without having to pay duties or taxes.

A state-of-the-art facility
The 25,000 square metre facility houses strong rooms and vaults, as well as showrooms, workshops, photo studios and private offices.
In addition to strong rooms, basement vaults and a state-of-the-art security system, the FreePort is equipped with energy-saving features such as a thermal insulating structure, and vegetation-covered walls to help maintain the precise temperatures and humidity levels needed to store priceless works of art. It also has private viewing rooms and exhibition spaces which are accessible by appointment only.

International auction house Christie's is the main tenant of the FreePort, taking up 40 per cent of the space to offer its Fine Art Storage Services to its global clientele.

One homegrown firm that has benefited so far from the establishment of the Singapore FreePort is Helu-Trans (S) Pte Ltd. The company handles art logistics for Christie's and other international auction houses, and is expanding its business into the storage of high-value collectibles at the Singapore FreePort.

Besides catering to the growing needs of the art and collectables industry in Asia, the opening of the FreePort in Singapore could also spur the development of supporting services for art logistics and new wealth management services like art banking, and attract clients from as far abroad as Russia and the Middle East.
 

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