When Richard Ekstract gears up for a summer at his home in Bridgehampton, he totes along more than the typical seasonal accoutrements of golf clubs or gardening shears. This summer, he'll also bring out a 9-foot tall painting that he purchased in March at The Armory Show, as well as a large portrait by artist Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, which Mr. Ekstract acquired earlier this year from Jack Shainman Gallery in Chelsea.
"I want to send them out to the beach because I want to experience them and live with them," said Mr. Ekstract, the founder and former publisher of Hamptons Cottages & Gardens. Plus, he added, "I want my friends to see the work."
As the warm-weather escape of choice for many of Manhattan's wealthiest residents, the Hamptons plays home to a rotating display of some of the world's best private art collections. Many collectors own more than enough work to fill multiple residences simultaneously, but concerns about security and conservation (the Hamptons is typically quite humid) mean collectors often avoid keeping valuable works on permanent display in the East End.
So at the start of each summer, they choose works from their stables to bring to their vacation homes. Some collectors swap out older works for newer purchases throughout the summer, or import a special piece to display in advance of an important dinner or party. The volume of transport between Manhattan and the Hamptons between Memorial Day and Labor Day is so high, in fact, that a number of fine-art transport companies offer weekly "art shuttles," which coordinate pick-up and delivery among groups of customers, allowing greater efficiency for the companies and reduced rates for the clients.
One such company, Long Island City-based Atelier 4, offers a "Flex-Shuttle" that delivers between Manhattan and Eastern Long Island for $495. The company offers exclusive service starting at $1,050 a trip. Atelier 4 President and Chief Executive Jonathan Schwartz said he attracts roughly 1,200 clients each season, with about 20 customers opting for the exclusive service. Many of those clients swap out works three or four times per season, Mr. Schwartz said.
"We're talking about collectors who have more works than they can put on the walls in their various homes," Mr. Schwartz said
Marshall Didier, the owner of Marshall Fine Arts, in Deer Park, N.Y., said some of his customers have used his installation services for their Hamptons homes on an annual basis for as many as 18 years. "They call up and they say, 'It's time,' " he said. "We've got the phone numbers in place." Mr. Didier's shuttle costs about $250 each way. Exclusive transport costs between $900 and $1,200, depending on the preparatory work required.
Crozier Fine Arts, Inc. started offering a shuttle five years ago, when the demand for transport on the Manhattan-to-Hamptons route became "a monster problem" because of traffic, security and other logistical issues, founder Bob Crozier said. "They're constantly rotating their collections," he said of his customers.
Mr. Didier, whose company recently installed Jeff Koons's giant sculpture "Balloon Dog (Orange)" in the lobby of the Seagram Building, said he often gets calls for "special occasion" installation.
"We've been asked to run in very quickly because certain people were going to be there, or certain collectors were favoring certain artists," he said. "You're fixing up a place and you've got the right flowers, or right dishes, and so on. Sometimes the right artwork is appropriate."
Nancy Singer, an avid contemporary-art collector, said she and her husband Stanley usually install recent acquisitions in their East Hampton home in advance of a large party they like to throw each summer. "We like to show what's new," Ms. Singer said.
The Singers, who lived in New York City until the 1990s and now split their time between East Hampton and Delray Beach, Florida, have a collection that includes works by Ed Ruscha, Cady Noland and Amy Cutler. In May, the Singers moved five pieces, including a work by Banks Violette, into their East Hampton residence, where they rehang work about once a year. They even built a 1000-square-foot extension onto their summer home, Ms. Singer explained, because "we ran out of wall space."
Mr. Ekstract said he'll have to move works back to his Manhattan residence, or into storage, since he typically brings up to 10 new pieces out to the Hamptons each season. "What's going to come down?" he said. "I can't even begin to guess."