From Marie-Antoinette to the Digital Age – How Artworks Reach Their Collectors in the US –

New York, NY, December 21, 2023 –(– In 1760, André Chenue founded his company when serving at the French court as a “Layetier,” responsible for handling Marie-Antoinette’s laundry. Initially, he focused on meticulously packaging the queen’s undergarments and those of her children. Later, Chenue was tasked with producing “Layettes” – crates, cases, and trunks – necessary for storing and transporting clothing and personal belongings of Marie-Antoinette. Travel chests on carriages were treated roughly at the time, so precious clothing, delicate objects and furniture had to be packed carefully and securely to arrive undamaged at its destination. With custom-made crates and trunks, the queen’s possessions could move from castle to castle, as was customary at the time, without significant damage.

Challenges in art transport rise in the digital age
Today, challenges in transporting art and valuables are no less demanding. What used to be bumpy country roads during the Ancien Régime are now the packing lanes and conveyor belts of major shipping companies. Facilitated by the internet and e-commerce, the art trade operates globally, allowing collectors worldwide to participate in online auctions or acquire artworks through online platforms. Additionally, social media now plays a crucial role in the marketing of art and artists, who showcase themselves and their works on platforms like Instagram, connecting with international buyers. With the surge in global art trade, artworks increasingly need to be transported over long distances, and customer expectations for fast and cost-effective shipping, as seen in regular online commerce, are also on the rise.

Merging traditional craftsmanship with digital solutions
As one of the first art shipping companies, the French Chenue group has embraced the benefits of digitization for art transport. Combining the traditional craftsmanship of crate makers, who are still responsible for carefully packaging highly sensitive artworks, Chenue has developed Moviiu, a smart platform providing the global art trade with a fast and secure shipping solution. Through an AI-based online tool, art buyers can input delivery details such as pickup and delivery addresses and artwork dimensions. The AI then calculates the transport price, shipping conditions, and optimal packaging size within seconds, with the actual packaging still crafted by specialized crate makers. After the ordering process, the customer receives the packaging at the pickup address, places their artwork in the custom box, and instructs shipping via the website. Similar to regular online commerce, the customer is informed about each shipping step, up to the artwork’s delivery to the collector, with real-time tracking available – particularly valuable for the shipping of high-value goods.

Easier access to the European market for foreign collectors
For foreign collectors, buying works of art on the European market has thus become even easier. Prior to auctions, potential buyers can use Moviiu to determine the cost of economical transportation, which can quickly exceed the value of the purchased artwork using traditional art shipping companies. Moviiu’s system also automatically handles customs procedures in export and import countries. Moviiu has been offering this intelligent shipping solution for outgoing transports from Switzerland and France for three years. Since November of this year, the establishment of new packing and logistics centers in Berlin and Düsseldorf has made it easier for collectors to buy works of art in Germany and ship them all over the world. Already, more than 1000 artworks have been shipped using this innovative transport method – and if the digital art trade continues to grow rapidly, many more could be sent in the future.