Hey, That Ferrari? Put It In A Hurricane-Proof Vault
MARY LOUISE KELLY, Host:
As NPR's Greg Allen reports from Miami, wealthy collectors now have options to park everything from art to automobiles.
GREG ALLEN: Over the past decade, Miami has developed a reputation as a place to buy and sell fine art. It's been spurred in large part by Art Basel Miami Beach, an annual event that has grown into one of the largest art shows in the U.S. That's led to a boom in art galleries and other companies that specialize in handling, shipping and storing art.
DAVID LOMBARDI: It's not just from South Florida. We have clients coming in weekly from Europe and South America as well.
ALLEN: David Lombardi owns Museo Vault. Outside, it's a multistory, concrete building with few windows. He's speaking inside the cavernous art storage facility. Lombardi got the idea for the business after the active 2005 hurricane season at an Art Basel event where he heard one of the main concerns of insurance companies.
LOMBARDI: How to keep artwork safe in this environment where we have five or six months of terrible hurricane storms that come through?
ALLEN: Marty Margulies is one of Miami's top art collectors. He says all art collectors here need a hurricane storage plan that satisfies their insurance companies.
MARTY MARGULIES: They want to see sprinklers, hurricane glass, concrete structure, that type of thing.
ALLEN: Just a few dozen miles north, Museo Vault has a competitor, another new high-tech storage company called RoboVault.
MARVIN CHANEY: So this is one of the two means of access to the safe deposit box room.
ALLEN: Marvin Chaney helped pioneer the self-storage industry in Florida. He's now built a facility that also offers protection against the most powerful hurricanes, plus security that looks like something out of a "Mission Impossible" film. Like a bank, there are safe deposit boxes. To access these, though, you need an ID, a pin number, and you press your index finger on a scanner.
CHANEY: So it recorded your fingerprint. This is our private vault area.
ALLEN: There's also a special set of rooms for storing wine. But the most impressive feature is the robotic storage and retrieval system.
CHANEY: You can see here the beginning of the process. The car is starting to be put away, the...
ALLEN: A robotic arm has picked up and is returning to its storage unit a Ferrari 430 convertible. A big part of RoboVault's business is storage of vintage and exotic cars. But Marvin Chaney says the biggest growth in his business lately has been in precious metals. Gold and especially silver take up a lot of space. One problem many investors soon encounter is where to keep it.
CHANEY: We will receive precious metals on behalf of our clients. We will store the precious metals. We'll quantify the precious metals, whether it's silver bullion versus gold bullion. And through our insurance carrier, Lloyd's of London, we will insure the precious metal while it's stored here.
ALLEN: Greg Allen, NPR News Miami.
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