09 December 2013
The facility aims to provide secure, anonymous storage for valuable assets. Storehouses like this have cropped up around the world, following the tradition of “freeports,” which allow goods to be stored duty-free while in transit.
Historically, freeports allowed exporters to avoid import duties in nations through which their products were traveling – with taxes imposed only at the final destination, rather than in every country along the way.
Now, however, they also allow owners to store assets such as coins, sculptures, precious metals and rare artworks under lockdown in climate-controlled, technologically advanced warehouses.
Some owners of these facilities are turning them into showrooms that allow prospective buyers to inspect goods before purchase. If they do decide to buy, they can leave the asset in the freeport warehouse and avoid import duties.
Freeport facilities have been built in Switzerland, Monaco, Singapore and other cities around the globe. For all their attractions to asset owners, they pose risks that unnerve insurance companies, which may be unsure exactly what property each facility holds. A natural disaster, for instance, could lead to colossal losses.
Still, freeport storage is set to expand – accompanied by sophisticated ancillary services such as renovation and valuation – as long as the global population of ultra high net worth individuals and their appetite for collectible assets continue to grow.