Authenticity and blockchain go together like altcoins and going broke, and the technology is already being used to authenticate a wide variety of items, from wine to medication. The art world is one with authenticity at its core – the difference between a genuine piece and a clever fake can be in the millions of dollars. Art authentication is a painstaking process, almost an art form in itself, but one company, Arteïa, is using blockchain to try and streamline the whole process. They are using blockchain to track the provenance of art pieces, ensuring that when it comes to auction time, be it tomorrow or in 2100, everything about the piece is immediately available and genuine, ensuring authenticity, no questions asked.
Arteïa Solving the Art World’s Three Problems
Arteïa’s aim, according to co-founder Philippe Gellman, is to put together a universal ledger of artists to give a starting point of provenance for each piece, ensuring that the original artist is recognized as such and that each event in a piece’s life is catalogued, such as changes in ownership, participation in exhibitions, or it if is featured in an article. Validators will then verify the information and update the chain, ensuring each piece has an up to date record at all times. According to Gellman there are three inefficiencies in the art market – provenance (is my work genuine?), transparency (am I paying a fair price?), and liquidity (why is it so expensive and so difficult to buy and sell?). Gellman states that Arteïa solves these problems by establishing the piece’s creator up front (provenance), by storing the price of all transactions the piece is involved with (transparency), and by proving a trading platform that helps circumvent the buyer’s commission (30%) and seller’s commission (10%) charged by auction houses.
70,000 Pieces and Counting
The project has some 70,000 works of art uploaded to it, although according to Gellman not all artists want to share their data, although it is clearly in their best interests if they do. The project is backed by the Tattinger family of champagne fame, and the Belgian Marian art-collecting dynasty, and Arteïa is currently undergoing an ICO, with tokens to be used by anyone along the chain, from artists to collectors, who wish to utilize the service or add data to it. Art and blockchain have had a relationship for many years, with paintings form luminaries such as Andy Warhol already cut up and sold off as securities, and it might just be that in the next fifty years will see the next Warhol having their paintings starting out on the blockchain.