About fine art shippers
Fine Art Shippers is a New York-based father & son branded company specializing in handling and shipping fine art, antiques, luxury items, and collectibles of all kinds. Have been in this business since 1995, providing a full range of artwork shipping services to private collectors, art dealers, galleries, artists, and auction houses. Specialty includes shipping paintings, decorative fine art objects, large marble statues, metal sculptures, vintage furniture, antique pianos, and other valuable and expensive items of any size and weight. In addition to all types of the artwork transport services, dedicated team of art shippers also offers a variety of other essential services, including art packing, museum-quality crating, art storage, art shuttles, white glove courier delivery, and art installation.
Entering an art fair or a long-awaited exhibition, we enjoy the works, admire and get inspired by the artists, but we hardly think about how these works ended up here, what path they traveled and who made it possible. Today we will talk about art logistics, and Ilya Kushnirskiy, founder of Fine Art Shippers will share his experience and secrets.

- Do you remember your first order? What piece of art was it? Tell us more about this experience.
- Yeah! It is something that I won't forget. When I just joined the company, we were to move a Banksy wall. It was original graffiti painted by Banksy in Brooklyn in the iconic Midwood area. Believe me, it was a really big wall – 10 ft by 10 ft. The owner found out about the artwork and wanted to preserve it. At the end of the day, I was the one in charge. The company didn't want to do it because they thought it was a hell of a great task and too much responsibility. Luckily, they said, "All right, whatever, if you wanna do it, you are in charge, and you get it done." I involved engineers and made a plan – it was a lot of work. First, we had to make a steel construction for a wall, which would later be safely moved to a location built exclusively for that wall.

And now, believe it or not, the painting is all over the internet. It's famous. So yeah, I am very excited that I was the one who was in charge of that project and made it possible for that artwork by Banksy to be preserved. For me, it is a valuable piece of history. It was my first job, and I am very happy about it.
- Your company is relatively small for the volume of work that you do, how many people do you have on your team and what do they do?
- Yes, the company is indeed small, but we are constantly growing. We already have three full-time vehicles operating throughout the US and one local vehicle in New York. Fine Art Shippers also has an art shuttle that goes every two weeks to Miami, Florida, and covers the whole East Coast. Moreover, there is also a truck that goes to the West Coast and runs all the way up to Seattle. We do it at least once a month.

In New York, we have two dedicated crews of four art handlers. Plus, there is a professional crater and a chief art installer responsible for big exhibitions and unique installations.

We also shouldn't forget about the customer service agents who are also experts in logistics. There is a dispatcher who builds the route of our art shuttles and communicates with the clients. Finally, we have other types of support in terms of legal practices and marketing. I would say that the overall amount of people involved in the company is, on average, about 30 people in total.
The mission of Fine Art Shippers is to provide clients with customized fine art shipping and handling solutions of the highest quality while maintaining the affordability of all services. Fine Art Shippers operates both across the United States and internationally, offering a variety of cost-effective air and sea transportation options, making our company the number one choice for many reputable art business professionals.
Fine Art Shippers
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- What makes your company different from other companies in the market?
- One of the things that makes the company different is that both owners are actively involved in the operational work, which means that we install, pack, ship, deliver, and drive. The other thing is that both owners come from extensive antique and art backgrounds. My father used to be an antique dealer and a prominent porcelain collector, so there is no one who knows how to pack porcelain better than him.

I started working in the antique market at the age of 15. Since 18, I have been doing different shows such as Miami Beach, JCK Show, jewelry expositions, watch presentations, and other events with expensive antiques, jewels, and artworks that needed extensive packing. That's how I know how to flawlessly pack every single piece so that it gets delivered super safely. This is very important.

Furthermore, some of our other guys are superb carpenters. These are people who come from the wood trade and know how to make crates like nobody else.

At Fine Art Shippers, we have known each other for many years. As you said, we are a small company, and we do position ourselves as a small boutique company. The thing is that we don't want to be huge. Being a small family-owned company that caters to individual projects is our niche. At the same time, there is no project of any magnitude that we cannot do. Sure, we don't take on as many projects at a time as big companies do, but we are also very flexible and have no delays. In other words, we are very customizable, and we like it. A lot of our customers like it too because they like the individual approach and the feeling that they are involved with one of the owners who is going to supervise their projects. It gives them confidence.
- How can the development of digital art affect your field?
- Well, the development of digital art, in my opinion, cannot affect my business in the near future unless the world completely changes and people switch from real art to digital art. Many of my customers are from different industries and have no idea of what NFT is. Most of them are galleries, auction houses, antique centers, antique shops, and full-time collectors. These are buyers of physical things. They are of different age groups, people in their 40s and 50s. Some of them do buy NFTs. For example, some of the guys whom I met at the Hamptons Art Show in August buy them, but they treat them only as investments and pretty pictures. In my honest opinion, we are not in conflict. I love digital art and its concept. And it has no issues with my customers, so I don't believe it can affect us in any way.
- What is the geography of your work?
- Geography? We have art shuttles that cover the whole United States. Within three weeks, we can pretty much get anything delivered individually from one place to another. We also have partners in Europe and Asia: London, Paris, Berlin, Hong Kong, and Shanghai. Those relationships have been built over the years, so we can help with projects of any magnitude in the US and abroad.
- Which client, in your opinion, is the most demanding: a gallery or a collector? Why?
- In our case, we have standard practices, so we treat all clients equally. Technically, there is no difference between the two.
Sometimes, private clients could be a little bit more scared and weary, but they all trust us. It doesn't, though, make the whole situation any different.
- In addition to ground transport, you use air and sea transport. Are there any risks regarding these modes of transport?
- On the contrary. Air travel is one of the safest ways to transport art. Obviously, when we are in the US, it is way more convenient, faster, cheaper, and more secure to transport art in trucks. They have to be climate-controlled and have an air suspension system for better safety.

A lot of items are very large, so it's hard to ship them with the airline within the country because most planes in the US are so-called narrow-body airlines. Take, for example, the 737. They are not like the 777 or 767 Boeings and Airbus A380. That's why it will be impossible to transport artworks.

When shipping overseas, we always prefer air shipments. There are not many loads and unloads, so the process is much smoother. Sea travel is also reliable, but we always recommend that people don't consolidate and just use their own containers. In other words, if an artist wants to ship a very large exhibition of 200 paintings to Berlin, we will recommend sea transportation because it's much cheaper, and they will have their own fully-insured containers.

Generally speaking, I would say that sea travel in consolidated containers, when art can be shipped with other goods, is not the safest way to transport valuables.
- Have there been funny incidents in your practice? Tell us about it.
- It's hard to tell. Of course, there are funny incidents in my job. I mean, things do occur because, at the end of the day, we are humans. No matter how professional and versatile you are, mistakes do happen, and sometimes people can drop or cut things. I have been working in art logistics for seven years, and there were probably two or three such cases that I remember. We are very careful, we never rush, and try to do our work as smoothly as possible. That's pretty much it.