Photo of Uovo courtesy Uovo
Writing for the New York Times Magazine, William Alden reports on an enigmatic, 280,000-square-foot, 70 million-dollar building that has sprouted in Long Island City, Queens. Is it a museum? Is it a bank? Is it starchitecture?!
The answer is a new hybrid model of art-storage facility and sales floor. What better location for this than Long Island City, where commodities have been produced, packed, and shipped for decades?
“[This] structure is the flagship location of an upstart art-storage company called Uovo. Rather than refurbish an old warehouse, Uovo built from scratch, creating a vault with ‘Mission: Impossible’-grade security and bespoke technology for cataloging artworks that makes information about them readily available to interested buyers…Uovo has already leased a vast majority of its available space, a reflection of the incredible demand for these services as the art market booms.”
And the dark side?
“But giving clients and prospective buyers remote access to so much data, while making the business more efficient, also helps make the art more like a tradable unit, able to change hands without even leaving a warehouse. Buyers can use the database in much the same way a hedge funder uses a Bloomberg terminal…Enrique Liberman, a lawyer who works with funds that buy art on behalf of wealthy investors, says the art market now “has all the trappings of traditional investment markets in the form of the services provided.” While that may be a slight exaggeration — the art market, after all, remains opaque and unregulated — places like Uovo bring us closer to that reality.”