Matassa Toffolo: Protecting your art investment


Freda Matassa & Julia Toffolo founders of Matassa Toffolo

You wouldn’t buy a Lamborghini and leave it out in the rain. So why invest your money in art or antiquities and then overlook the proper care needed for them? This is the question that new art collections management company Matassa Toffolo asks.

Based in London and started a year ago by Freda Matassa and Julia Toffolo, the company offers a wide range of services for every step of owning and managing an art collection.

“We’ve seen some real horror stories. Pictures hung above radiators, or heavy works being held up with one small nail,” said Julia Toffolo. “Owners don’t always understand how the value can just plummet if you don’t protect it. Particularly with contemporary art, you’ve got to know what you are doing.”

Catering for the public, private and corporate sector, Matassa Toffolo aims to deliver ‘museum-quality’ collections management at an international standard. Whether for one individual piece or for a whole collection they offer services in all areas of collection logistics. Matassa said: “We saw a gap in the market. People like to buy art but they don’t always know how to look after it.”

As well as the collections management services, Matassa and Toffolo also facilitate training for institutions and run talks with insurance companies on the importance of maintaining the condition of works.

Matassa has been an independent art advisor since 2006. Prior to that she was head of collections management at the Tate for all five of the UK sites, and before that she was registrar at the Royal Academy of Arts. Toffolo was formerly the deputy director and senior registrar of the UK Government Art Collection and where she managed and displayed its large fine art collection in high profile Government buildings on an international scale.

Combining both of their many years global experience and a wide network of industry professionals, the team have access to skilled experts in collections documentation and display. From installation and framing through to lighting and storage, Matassa Toffolo says it can manage any aspect of an art collections display. They can also help with the documentation aspects of owning a collection with condition inspections, provenance research and insurance advice among some of the many services offered. Together they can put together a bespoke team with the right skills for each individual project and collection.

“We can also offer curatorial services, giving advice and managing how to display the works from the lighting to how the pieces are hung and interpreted, it’s amazing how it can make a difference in engaging with the viewer,” said Matassa. “We also work with decorative arts as well, for example silver has been particularly interesting, although there are similar principles for decorative items they do need to be handled differently but we know the right specialists to ask.”

“The majority of business comes through word of mouth, people who want to invest in their collection,” added Toffolo. Some of their past projects have included entire exhibitions or small museums with no time or staff to maintain the collection, even colleges or universities that have collections of art and no means of managing them. “There is a lot of variety in what we do. Every day can be different. There is something amazing about opening a box and finding a Rembrandt inside” added Matassa.

“Artists intentions and circumstances can play a big part in how their work is displayed. This again is particularly relevant in contemporary art due to the wide variety of mediums used,” added Matassa.

The trends of the market are also influencing what the company does, with the increase of interest in the contemporary art market there is more need for its services. More artists are specifying particular ways in which their work needs to be stored or displayed and there is an increase in variety of mediums, some of which require specialist care and maintenance. “It’s easy to fall in love with a work of art and not think about how it needs to be maintained.” Matassa added.

When talking to about the future the company has big plans. Toffolo said: “Although we are currently mainly working in the UK, there is a huge potential for our services internationally.”

Matassa added: “Our plan is to grow and expand. We want our name to be known globally as a way of bringing museum standards to every collection. After all, the art will outlast us all.”