Who Are the Protectors of the World's Most Precious Artworks?

As November continues to speed along, people from all over the world are gearing up for Art Basel Miami Beach. Last year, galleries reported selling works of art from $300,000 up to $5 million in the first few hours. In addition to the art, the weeklong celebration is characterized by openings, by-invitation parties, pop-ups, music, and more. Attendees are not only expecting an incredible display, but also one heck of a party.

Collectors, museums, corporations, critics, and art advisors, along with the cadre of celebrities who travel to Art Basel Miami Beach, will be treated to an estimated $3 billion of contemporary and modern works of art, as well as the additional artworks for sale at around 16 satellite shows across the city.

It seems the art world is evolving and you no longer have to be a longtime collector or a former Art History major to appreciate and start a collection of your own. Even the way art is sold and bought is changing (like Leonardo DiCaprio recently purchasing art on Instagram). A recent report puts worldwide art sales at a record $54 billion, with the United States accounting for 39% of the market, and it shows no signs of slowing down.

So If you're not a seasoned collector, should Art Basel Miami Beach be your first leap into the art world? What steps should you take after your purchase? Do you hang it in your hallway and that's that?

I posed these questions to AXA ART's CEO of the Americas, Christiane Fischer, who attends the fair yearly with her team to support AXA ART's clients. AXA ART is a global art insurance company and also a partner in Art Basel Miami. It turns out art insurance may not be the most glamorous part of an art fair, but it's a billion-dollar industry that not many talk about.

"The fair has been described as the most important barometer for new and evolving trends in contemporary art. Collectors should learn about what it takes to protect their investments in acquiring art," she said. "The journey starts from the time the object is prepared to leave the art fair."

Everything from how it travels, how it's packed, to even how it's hung in your home are all important in preservation. AXA ART itself looks to experts like Christian Scheidemann, Senior Conservator and President at New York's Contemporary Conservation Ltd. who said, "Be sure to secure a detailed condition report in words and images from the seller along with proper installation instructions. For example, packaging material should not touch the delicate surface of a painting. Artworks must be adequately secured during shipping." Everyone from private collectors to corporate offices all over the world have collectables carefully looked after. And for someone who knew little about how the art world works, I found that pretty incredible.

In a few short days I'll be headed down to Miami to experience it all for myself. I expect it to be quite an affair, but underneath all the glitz, glamour, and sunshine are the art insurers of the world, keeping close watch on what means so much to so many.