Preserving Art Heritage in Artex Art Depot

Our group of EduArt Roadshow participants was lucky enough to enjoy a walk through this unique art depository; the only of its kind in the Czech Republic operating as a duty free zone.

The Artex art depot; a vast expanse of warehouse space, purpose-built to house priceless works of art constructed with meticulous precision, with the sturdy concrete walls proudly devoid of windows, protecting against burglary or fire. Even when entering inside, one is greeted by an atmosphere of controlled perfection. The micro-climatic conditions within these hallowed walls are precisely maintained, sustaining a temperature of 18°C and humidity of 50%.

What we agreed upon was that this place, with its innately mysterious atmosphere, surely brought more questions rather than answers. The names of the artworks, same as the identity of their owners, remained unrecognisable, naturally prompting even more curiosity from our side. Our guide, René Rohan, the Artex’s Executive Director, commented on this account: ‘I know you wish to know more, and want me to tell you, but I cannot. We have to make sure there is no way to deduct in any way what we store in this depot.’

What he was able to share, however, was that this place was a temporary home to such masterpieces as Mucha’s Slav Epic (1910-1928), and currently hosts, for instance, a controversial bronze statue of the Soviet General Ivan Koněv. Interestingly, this statue was removed in 2020 and subsequently kept here in secret which ultimately proved itself to be a ‘rescue mission’ given the statue would have most likely been otherwise destroyed. Meaning, either melted and reworked into another one, or just thrown away. ‘It was only after the right people noticed that it was treated as a legitimate artwork that they also acknowledged the importance of treating it as a significant historical artifact and a part of our cultural heritage.’

As of now, the depot is not only a safe haven for artworks of remote history. ‘We have an increasing number of clients who store contemporary art here. They started with Czech modern and old historical art pieces, but now they have been changing their focus. They’ve started realising contemporary art, often by emerging artists, has value and more importantly, will be of value, so they are now looking after it as a work of art too,’ attests René.

Moreover, the option to store artworks safely is not exclusive to well off collectors. In this perfectly secured space, anyone can store their works for just a few hundred Czech crowns a month.

To be specific, when storing artworks with lesser potential of damage, ones of which can be protected by protective foils, clients are charged CZK 830 per square meter – storage of a single painting then costs only CZK 100 a month. When storing old and more expensive paintings that do require additional control of excessive moisture in the air and special ventilation system in order for them to be protected from mold, there is a possibility to rent a grid module organised within a special hanging system. The charge in this case is CZK 400 per square meter a month. For extensive art collections, one can also rent a booth which, upon request, can be accessed solely by its owner. The only condition here is to sign a contract confirming its owner does not store here any drugs, explosives, pornography, or items with a legal defect.

Overall, Artex complex represents a unique ecosystem in which an art depository, a gallery and an investment fund for contemporary art operate side by side. Last but not least, there is also a showroom housing over 800 artworks by both established and emerging artists. Whether you are a seasoned art collector or someone who is only beginning to play with the thought of art collecting, Artex facility is the place to go if you wish professional advice and management services.