Most of the stuff we put in self-storage is pretty pedestrian: Bed frames, unused furniture and boxes of magazines probably make up the majority of storage units in America. Who would have known that in Europe, self-storage has evolved into a place where millions of dollars worth of art and collectibles are being stored?

These facilities are not the ones we’re familiar with here in America. They are more commonly referred to as “freeports,” by definition an area with relaxed jurisdiction with respect to the country of location. This means that often, a freeport has auspicious regulations, and may even be free from customs duties. The Geneva Freeport is a great example— its website advertises postponed duty payments and classifies deliveries to the site as “exports,” among other benefits.

Traditionally, freeports were designed to store agricultural and bulk goods briefly while they traveled between destinations. The Geneva Freeport’s tax-free perks, however, have drawn a different crowd from the average grain producer. Instead, it may be the most expensive 31 acres ever.

In recent years, the Geneva Freeport has become almost exclusively a mecca of art storage for collectors. One unit is dedicated entirely to original works by Picasso. Another functions as a gallery, showing works by Giacometti, Balthus and Modigliani. For these art collectors, renting a freeport is much less expensive than renting space in downtown Gevena.

The staggering list of items stored in the freeport doesn’t end with art. One can also expect to find units filled with cigars, Lamborghinis, fine soap and Porsches. One unit is a wine cellar, filled with crates stamped with names like Chateau Mouton Rothschild, Dom Perignon, and Chateau Petrus. In fact, it’s estimated the Geneva Freeport alone holds 3 million bottles of wine. It’s highly likely that James Bond rents out a space in the freeport for his spare Aston Martins.

At the end of the day, however, the Geneva Freeport is no different from self-storage in Portland. It offers temperature and humidity control, as well as services like tight security, restoration, framing, authentication, evaluation, and specialized transportation. Okay, so maybe it is a little different than what you’ll find at your average facility. One thing’s for certain, though: Don’t expect to see the cast of Storage Wars at the Geneva Freeport anytime soon.

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