A fire erupted at an art storage facility used by Brazilian galleries last week in Taboão da Serra, a city outside of São Paulo. Top dealers including Simões de Assis, Luciana Brito, and Nara Roesler are clients of the facility.
The blaze broke out in the late afternoon on Thursday, March 25, according to Brazilian media. It took 10 crews from the local fire station roughly five hours to quell the flames. No one was injured in the incident.
Whether or not we can say the same about the thousands of artworks stored in the facility, including pieces by artists Tomie Ohtake, Isaac Julien, and Vik Muniz, is yet to be determined. A full audit of the inventory is currently underway for Nara Roesler, according to a representative from the gallery—and it may take some time to complete.
“We still do not hold definitive information on the dimension of the damage caused, but we have been in constant contact with the authorities responsible for technical evaluation—among them the fire department, the police, and insurance experts,” the gallery explained in a statement. “We have also been developing a complete report on the artworks that have been affected. In order to reach an accurate evaluation of the facts we must go through this lengthy, but necessary process.”
So far, the prognosis is serious. “There will be losses that cannot be replaced,” Muniz told local Brazilian news agency Folhapress. “This is very sad for a gallery that has a history as long and rich as Nara’s.”
Brazilian artist Emanoel Araújo, who is represented by Simões de Assis and had 13 artworks in the facility waiting to be shipped for an upcoming exhibition in the U.S., added that it was a “huge shock” to learn of the fire.
“When you lose a work, it is very difficult because you cannot reconstruct it. It is something done in the past, it is really lost,” the artist told the agency. “There is no justification, it is a lack of attention, of responsibility. You can say what you want, but nothing that is said will solve it.”
Alke, the company that operates the facility, said in a statement that “there has never been a similar case in the company’s history.” The organization also claims that the facility had an up-to-date inspection certificate from the local fire department.
Representatives from Simões de Assis and Luciana Brito did not respond to a request for comment by press time.