The intelligent use of blockchain technology – the underlying infrastructure on which cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum are based – is set to put paid to one of the art world’s biggest problems – forgery.
This bold assertion comes from the bosses of top art-tech agency Thomas Crown Art, set up when renowned art dealer, Stephen Howes, and top-level technology expert, Ian McLeod, joined forces.
The idea of combining art and technology to fight forgery has led Thomas Crown to come up with an innovative solution for artists and collectors, wherein new works of art act as a literal ‘store of value’, serving as a cryptocurrency wallet for owners.
This method provides an independent way of undoubtedly proving the origin of any given piece of art quickly and easily, whilst also maintaining an immutable chain of ownership.
Stephen Howes commented, “Forgeries are, unfortunately, a growing and serious problem in the art world. The fraudsters, who are getting better and better at producing both fake artwork and provenance documentation, have been wreaking havoc throughout the market in the last couple of years.
“Art crime is a huge business. However, I believe going forward, both art and provenance forgery can be stamped out with the clever use of blockchain/decentralised ledger technology at the point the artwork is created.”
Using a blockchain to authenticate artwork is an ideal use-case for distributed ledger technology, as it provides the ability to store a permanent, unquestionable record of artwork at the point of creation, which can then be used to authenticate registered works by anyone with an internet connection.
At Thomas Crown Art each ‘wallestised’ piece is linked to a Certificate of Provenance stored on the blockchain in a ‘smART contract’ – this enables the option to use the physical artwork itself as a wallet, making it capable of storing cryptocurrency.
“Art forgers can make a fantastic living churning out high quality hand painted reproductions. However, if an artist’s work has been ‘walletised’ at the point of production, the quality of the forgery is the least of their problems if they wanted to sell it as an original,” said Stephen.
“All artwork and prints are recorded onto the blockchain with their own unique smart contract – the ownership of the artwork is then controlled solely by the owner via the QR code on the artwork and the artwork certificate. Using this cutting-edge technology, the art world can eradicate one of its biggest and most expensive problems and can protect artists, galleries, and private owners and collectors,” concluded Stephen.