Philip Colbert, a contemporary artist, wants to create a catalogue system in order to prove the authenticity of his work. Speaking of this idea, he said;
“I had a dealer in Japan who had been telling me I needed to have better forms of certification for my artwork…Art is a currency in a way; at the end of the day when they come to auction, the provenance is a very important element of their value.”
He spoke with Rob Norton, who is the founder of Verisart, a US based start up that uses blockchain, to verify he authenticity of artwork. There is a lot of speculation surrounding blockchain technology, but it creates an immutable, traceable record of every transaction. Adopting this technology within the art world could help to boost the online art market, which is currently only about 8%.
One of the biggest problems that artists face is that potential buyers are unlikely to purchase their work unless it can be fully and accurately verified. When you consider that the value of fraudulent activity in the global art market exceeds $6 billion every single year, and 80% of this is because of forgery, so it is only understandable that buyers will want to know that they are getting the real thing.
“…There’s a higher hurdle of trust that you have to clear, you have to know what you’re buying is real…Art is the second largest unregulated market after illicit drugs and it’s significantly overshadowed by fraudulent activity. You can accelerate trust and liquidity by providing better standards for verifiable, global certification.”
Colbert does have competition though, and there are already a number of start ups that are using blockchain in order to verify artwork. Speaking of his plans, he said;
“The blockchain is a more efficient method of verification…You’re not worried about the authentic value of your work, because it’s all about locking down the time and place. Then all those fakes aren’t doing you any damage. All those fake Mona Lisa’s don’t do the Mona Lisa any harm.”
Norton feels that they service is likely to become popular among artists who sell limited edition prints, and feels that there is room in the business for more than one project that targets artists work.
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