|Private limited company|
|Founded||25 September 1972|
|Services||Art transport, art storage, art installation|
|Revenue||£15.75 Million (2015)|
|£1.21 Million (2015)|
Number of employees
|Parent||Falkland Islands Holdings|
A major proportion of their business is maintaining (often delicate) artworks in a secure, climate-controlled environment. The company maintains two warehouse facilities adapted for this task. Momart's clients include the Royal Academy of Arts, Victoria & Albert Museum, National Gallery, Tate Modern, Tate Britain and Buckingham Palace. The company received considerable media attention in 2004 when a fire spread to one of their warehouses from an adjacent unit, destroying the works in it, including works by Young British Artists such as Tracey Emin and Damien Hirst, with the most well known work lost being Emin's 1995 piece Everyone I Have Ever Slept With 1963–1995. On 5 March 2008 Momart was taken over by Falkland Islands Holdings for a value of £10.3 Million  of which £4.6 Million was in cash, £2.5 Million was with shares and £3.2 was deferred consideration.
Momart began in 1971 as the “Jim Moyes’s Compendium of Working Possibilities”, with its founder, himself an artist, offering installation, display, handling, transport and framing services to up an coming artists and emergent galleries in London. Early users of the service included David Hockney, Howard Hodgkin and Francis Bacon. The client base quickly grew by word of mouth in recognition of the service levels being offered and in September 1972 the company was registered as Momart Limited – an amalgam of Jim Moyes and new partner Rees Martin. Rees subsequently left the business but the brand was becoming well established so the name remained.
The company set up its first office on Richmond Road, Hackney in East London and continued to grow organically – moving art, painting gallery walls, making frames and cases, hanging paintings, slinging sculpture and providing art storage. By 1985 Momart has gained a solid reputation amongst the commercial galleries and artists and started to introduce its credentials to the public sector such as the Victoria & Albert Museum, the National Gallery, Tate, Royal Academy and other UK based art institutions.
In 1985, Momart commissioned the UK’s first fine art vehicle with temperature control and air ride suspension and carried out first museum job on behalf of the Royal Academy - a Henry Moore exhibition. Momart was by then able to undertake all of the transport handling requirements completely in-house, including making site visits to the individual lenders where required, case making, transport of the empty cases to the lenders, pack on site and delivery of the case loan to the borrower.
Research and development
From 1988 Momart expanded the services to include the international movement of artworks on behalf of both commercial and museum clients overseas. This prompted close analysis and investigation of the various case making options and specifications and in 1991, in collaboration with Tate, the company assisted with the development and the standard specification for museum cases for touring exhibitions and for sending artworks worldwide. This was then presented at the Art in Transit Conference in Washington DC.
Momart’s client base continued to expand. In late 1980’s the company started working for the Royal Collection and, in 1993, in recognition of the high quality of service provided by Momart, Her Majesty The Queen appointed Momart as a Royal Warrant holder.
New storage facilities
In 2003 Momart invested in new premises in Leyton, with new plant and equipment and room for expansion. This included a new state-of-the-art workshop, storage facilities and transport office with Hackney remaining as the office base for the project coordination, administration and some satellite warehousing. This investment improved efficiency and capacity for increased storage business. In the same year Momart was granted Listed Agent status with the Department for Transport (DfT) allowing certified Momart employees to carry out hand search procedures on client artworks to avoid the need for X-raying at the airport of departure.
Falkland Islands Holding
In 2008 Momart was acquired by Falkland Islands Holdings (FIH) the international services group that owns services businesses focused on transport and logistics. Following the acquisition, Momart's key management and staff has continued to work within the group to drive the company’s continued expansion, particularly in rapidly growing overseas markets. In that same year Momart’s administrative offices were moved from Hackney to Whitechapel from where the company operated all of the administration, coordination, shipping, finance, IT services.
In 2009 HMRC granted Momart the then unique privilege amongst fine art transport companies to undertake all of its customs procedures in-house. Couple of years later, in 2011, Momart has been certified as an Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) enabling the company to simplify customs bureaucracy and speed up passage within the EU for their clients.
In 2013 the company relocated its head office to South Quay, East London where it currently resides.
In 2001 Momart and five other respected international fine art transport agents founded the professional association ARTIM, whose members monitor each other's service levels both professionally and financially. ARTIM comprises the leading fine art agents worldwide who have the highest standards of service. Agents wishing to join ARTIM have to be voted in with a majority vote by the Founders’ Committee before becoming members. The association has gained much respect due to the calibre of the membership and although it cannot be used as an advertising tool in any way, offers great mutual support and benefits to its members and thereby to its clients and to the art world as a whole.
The 2004 warehouse fire
In the evening of 24 May 2004 a fire broke out in a Momart storage warehouse in Leyton, east London.
The warehouse was in the centre of a large industrial building that also housed other businesses around the periphery. The central warehouse was sublet from a household moving company.
The blaze, which continued to smoulder for nearly a day, destroyed almost all of the artworks stored within. As well as works from other collections, items from the Saatchi collection of so-called Britart were lost. Charles Saatchi later commented:
Many of these pieces are great personal favourites and irreplaceable in British Art.
Some of the artists themselves were, however, more philosophical; Tracey Emin said:
Art industry insiders noted that the insurance value of the works lost in the fire, particularly the "Britart" works in Saatchi's collection, would be many times their initial purchase price, and that a comparable rise could be expected in the market values of the remaining (and future) works by artists whose works were lost. The artworks lost were valued at between £30 and £50 million.
Uri Geller visited the site "with a shovel and a roll of garden bin-liners" to salvage the remains. Entitled "RIP YBA" the remains were housed in perspex containers as a memorial by the contemporary artist Stuart Semple, as a commission by Geller. The work was subsequently offered to the Tate after several bids were rejected, creating a legal debate concerning the ownership of the remains from the fire.
Christopher Redgrave, son of William Redgrave, whose major sculpture The Event was in the fire, visited twice and manage to retrieve over 30 out of 228 bronze figures, though cutting his hands badly in the process. He described the scene:
There was a smell of rotting food, rotting chips, rotting meat from one of the units Momart shared the building with ... There were bits of glass hanging from the roof. I had to climb over steel girders. It looked like a twisted rollercoaster that had crashed.
As far as is known he is the only person out of the artists or artists' relatives to have been to the site; he said, "this building was inappropriate for what they are doing. There's no way around that."
At Christmas, 2004, Momart commissioned the Chapman Brothers to design their Christmas corporate gift. They produced a spoof Momart zippo lighter. Dinos Chapman commented:
We didn't have to think very hard. Our work burns, the company comes to us: there's a trajectory. What else could we do, but come up with the idea of a Zippo lighter with the word Momart on it?.
Works known lost in fire
- Patrick Caulfield — Hedone's
- Helen Chadwick — Cyclops Cameo', Opal and eight other works
- Jake and Dinos Chapman — Hell
- Michael Craig-Martin — Mood Change One
- Dexter Dalwood — Che Guevara's Mountain Hideaway
- Tracey Emin
- Everyone I Have Ever Slept With 1963–1995 (1995)
- The Last Thing I Said Is Don't Leave Me Here (The Hut) (1999)
- Patrick Heron — 50 works
- Damien Hirst — several paintings, unknown other works in addition to works by other artists, owned by Hirst
- Craigie Horsfield — Carrer Muntaner, Barcelona
- Gary Hume — Dolphin Painting No1
- Sarah Lucas — Down Below
- Martin Maloney — Sony Levi and at least 19 other works
- Tim Noble and Sue Webster — Miss Understood and Mr Meanor
- Chris Ofili — Afrobluff
- Richard Patterson — Motocrosser II
- William Redgrave — The Event
- Gavin Turk — Floater
- Rachel Whiteread — unknown
Momart Christmas card series
The tradition of the Momart Christmas card goes back to 1984 when the first object – a festive card – was designed for the company by Bruce McLean. Since then Momart collaborated on this project with many of the top British and international artists. The complete series of Momart Christmas card is now part of the permanent collections of the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Tate. The artists represented in past Christmas cards are:
- 1984 — Bruce McLean
- 1985 — Richard Wentworth
- 1986 — David Inshaw
- 1987 — Tim Head
- 1988 — Gillian Ayres
- 1989 — Barry Flanagan
- 1990 — Bill Woodrow
- 1991 — Eduardo Paolozzi
- 1992 — Helen Chadwick
- 1993 — Anthony Caro
- 1994 — Paula Rego
- 1995 — Peter Blake
- 1996 — Richard Deacon
- 1997 — Damien Hirst
- 1998 — Langlands & Bell
- 1999 — Tracey Emin
- 2000 — Gary Hume
- 2001 — Mark Wallinger
- 2002 — Howard Hodgkin
- 2003 — Lucian Freud
- 2004 — Paul McDevitt
- 2005 — David Hockney
- 2006 — Ron Mueck
- 2007 — Sarah Lucas
- 2008 — Richard Hughes
- 2009 — Catherine Yass
- 2010 — Joel Peers & Toby Ziegler
- 2011 — Gavin Turk
- 2013 — Glenn Brown
- 2014 — Patrick Hughes
Notes and references
- "Falkland island company annual report". FIC.
- Buck, Louisa (2004). Art Newspaper "Bending The Momart Wreckage, Art Newspaper, September 2004. Accessed 23 February 2008.
- Meek, James 2004 "Art into Ashes" The Guardian, 23 September 2004. Accessed 15 April 2006
- Momart website
- New art rises from wreckage of warehouse (Telegraph)
- BBC story on warehouse fire
- Warehouse was burgled before fire (BBC story)
- Why so many significant pieces of art were put at risk. (Guardian story)
- Spoof Momart Zippo is hottest present of year (Guardian story)
- William Regrave triptych and salvaged head