The Art of Security

Securing valuables for auction is end-to-end proposition

Sotheby’s is the oldest international fine art auctioneer in the world, where the auction of multimillion-dollar works of art creates as much buzz as celebrity sales. Numerous high-profile celebrity auctions have included the collections of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor and Katharine Hepburn. In 2007, the worldwide headquarters in New York held an array of exciting sales with property that spanned the centuries.

The Magna Carta sold for more than $21 million, and the Guennol Lioness brought more than $57 million, a record for an antiquity and sculpture at auction.

Founded in London in 1744, Sotheby’s offices are now located in 40 countries. The scope and scale of this well-known auction house has grown considerably since its early beginnings, and only in the last century has it expanded from book auctions to cover all areas of fine and decorative arts.

Protection is Priority
Today, Sotheby’s continues to showcase precious art, jewelry and priceless artifacts from around the world. From Picasso paintings to diamonds worth millions, it is Sotheby’s No. 1 priority to protect all property entrusted to them. These works of art and treasures are the property of the people who have trusted Sotheby’s with their valuables. And since protection of these assets is the top priority, Sotheby’s in New York selected a Pelco system for the job.

“Since the value of what is being protected is usually in the range of millions of dollars, we installed a state-of-the-art video security system to help ensure that these items are well protected,” said Gary Adkins, CCTV/alarm manager of Sotheby’s Security. “This video system is maintained 24/7, 365 days a year by our security personnel.”

Pelco trained the security officers in New York.

System integrator MSI Security Systems Inc. of New Jersey cited the reliability and customer support for both integrator and end user as the reason for selecting the products in the security installation.

Marvin Schnapper, president and CEO of MSI Security, said they worked closely with the customer to determine their needs and then matched those needs to the best available products, which was a combination of new and replacement/upgraded equipment.

“We took their existing system and rehabilitated it into a stateof- the-art showplace,” Schnapper said. “Sotheby’s is a leading company in an industry that has a lot of room for growth, and MSI was happy to have the opportunity to work with Don McVicker (Sotheby’s vice president director of security) and his staff on this project.”

The system consists of 256 cameras positioned throughout the exhibition galleries and elsewhere, including numerous Pelco Spectra positioning camera systems and fixed cameras. The system also consists of a Pelco 9760 matrix switch, DX8100 DVRs and Pelco multiviewers. Adkins said the matrix switch was actually part of their previous system.

“We scuttled the previous system and kept the console shell,” Adkins said.

Additional Capabilities, Expansion
“Our new system is working tremendously,” Adkins said. “We’ve been able to use the DVRs instead of using security guards to protect the high-value art. We do this is by using them to create a motion grid around a particular piece of art and using a relay to trigger a siren to alert the control staff that something has broken the motion.

“By using this feature, we are able to save considerable expense without giving up the ability to maintain security. I am also very impressed with the multiviewer’s ability to enhance the picture quality.”

A problem that arose with one aspect of the installation since the system upgrade was a shaking motion transmitted by some of the fixed cameras. The installer tried numerous products to try and remove the shaking but with no luck.

“I believe that replacing those other fixed cameras with Pelco fixed cameras took care of the problem,” Adkins said. “The reason I say this is because I have replaced two of them and they are now working fine.”

Sotheby’s also has expanded the system so they can view live video via their IP network from offices in various locations throughout the United States and Canada.

“Soon, we also will have the capability to view locations in Europe,” Adkins said. “We are looking to take our control room global and have the New York control room act as the hub for any disaster recovery and as the monitoring station for our overseas locations.”

This article first appeared in Pelco Press, Summer 2008.

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