Skip to Menu Skip to Search Contact Us Global Websites & Languages Skip to Content

On May 11, 2017, Yan Walther, SGS’s art expert, spoke to attendees on the occasion of the official opening of the ICIF, the biggest cultural fair in China.

The speech happened at Artron Art Center in Shenzhen, China, and focused on the importance of correct documentation, due diligence and condition monitoring in the modern art world. 

His speech, entitled “Best practices in art due diligence and condition monitoring during logistical operations and financial transactions”, looked at the ways in which best practice concerning documentation and condition reporting can help to protect art collectors, museums and financial institutions.

Management of SGS, Artron and Ping An
Management of SGS, Artron and Ping An,

in the company of Mr. Wei, former Deputy Minister of AQSIQ


The global art market has seen tremendous growth during recent years. It is now estimated to be worth $56.8 billion. Traditional centers for the art market, London and New York, are challenged by China, with 34% of the auction market in 2016. Matched to this, advances in technology have also allowed significant growth in the online market, now accounting for about 9% of art sales. At the same time, there has been a global expansion in the number of museums, especially in China, which saw a 60% growth in museums between 2009 and 2014. Simultaneously, this has led to an increase in national and international exhibition loans. The art market is now a truly global art market.

The result of all this financial and logistical activity is that anyone buying, loaning or transporting a piece of art, must observe best practice in order to protect their investment. With greater transportation of artworks around the globe comes greater opportunities for theft and damage. With greater financial rewards from art ownership, comes a stronger incentive to introduce forgeries into the art market. On top of this, growth in the Contemporary Art market, with its unusual materials, means transportation can be difficult and can even, in extreme cases, find the materials used to create the artwork, starting to react against each other when they are stored incorrectly.

Art ownership, logistics and trading, are no longer the realm of the informed amateur. Modern scientific practices, allied to correct documentation, can help museums, collectors and financial institutions, to minimize risk. SGS has developed several key services to help buyers assess the true value of a work of art, before they purchase it. Scientific analysis can help to identify authenticity, an artwork’s condition and the materials used – vital if the artwork contains proscribed materials making re-sale almost impossible.

For institutions looking to move art works around the globe for exhibition loads, due diligence will mean independent verification of the condition of the artwork before and after the logistical operation. It cannot stop artworks being accidentally damaged but it can help museums to make sure a piece of art is returned in the same condition it left their collection.

Mr. Walther concluded his presentation with an appeal to his audience to make sure their art works are correctly documented with their conditions accurately reported. This will help protect investments during logistical procedures and, if the unthinkable happens and an artwork is lost, it will provide invaluable independent data for insurance purposes.

Independent Art Reporting Delegates
Delegates at ICIF 2017


SGS Art Services

From its dedicated laboratory in Geneva Freeport, SGS is the only art service provider in its category to maintain a global presence. SGS has developed a unique system to monitor the condition of artworks globally, based on an international network of accredited art conservators, proprietary software and rigorous museum level procedures.

For further information contact:

Stephanie Pionchon
Global Marketing Manager
t: +33 4 42 61 64 46

About SGS

SGS is the world’s leading inspection, verification, testing and certification company. SGS is recognized as the global benchmark for quality and integrity. With more than 90,000 employees, SGS operates a network of over 2,000 offices and laboratories around the world.