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The Secrets to Shipping

Photography by Timothy A. Clary/AFP via Getty Images.


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When Micato Safaris guests Robert and Cheryl came upon two canoes on the shores of Lake Victoria, Tanzania, they knew the magnificent wooden objects would be perfect in their newly renovated New York barn. Each canoe had been carved from a single tree trunk, and years spent in the water had polished them to a magnificent patina. The problem was how to transport them. Kennedy Mong’are, Micato’s safari director, made a few calls and three months later the canoes arrived at their final destination half a world away.

Those boats, and other success stories like that one, prove that shipping unusual travel finds is rarely impossible—people just need to know whom to trust.

Andrew Petherick, head of art transport at Christie’s UK, is an expert in shipping unconventional items long distances. He explains that art transport frequently involves just as much red tape as it does the packing variety. “Apart from the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species restrictions, some types of property may be deemed culturally sensitive,” he explains. “Burmese rubies, for instance, are banned outright from being imported into the U.S.”

Many countries also have cultural restrictions. In Italy, a license is required to export all artwork and antiques, while in the United Kingdom a monetary threshold applies to nearly anything, above which a license is required.

When moving items of value, whether rare wine or a live animal, packing costs can quickly mount. But Petherick suggests matching the shipping cost to the acquisition’s value. “It might be very risky to spend just $100 to ship an item that cost you a quarter of a million,” he says.

To help mitigate that risk, we found others with expertise in shipping the most extravagant of souvenirs. These specialists have transported everything from multimillion-dollar artwork to entire hotels to pricey perishables—and know exactly how to make sure precious cargo arrives unscathed.


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