Introducing “smART” - Connecting Art to Artists & Proving Provenance Using Blockchain

June 21, 2018

Introducing “smART” - Connecting Art to Artists & Proving Provenance Using Blockchain

The buying, selling and exchange of artwork has changed little over the course of history with the exception of one major point – proving the provenance of the artwork itself. As forgers become ever more ingenious with faking techniques owners and artists have always been left with the problem (and cost) of definitively proving beyond doubt the originality of any given artwork.

Solving Provenance Problems With Blockchain

The rise of blockchain and distributed ledger technology is capable of solving a significant number of issues for artists and art collectors alike – provided it’s applied responsibly and correctly of course. Blockchain also opens up a number of additional benefits for current artists and collectors alike. Active artists can now ensure only legitimate works or an explicit number of prints exist for sale reducing fraud and lost revenue for artists trying to make a living from their works in their current lifetime – whether they simply aim to sell only original works or a limited run of prints.

Additional Benefits Using Blockchain

Introducing Blockchain into the art business also opens up additional possibilities beyond an immutable chain of ownership. “Walletising” the artwork using smart contracts creates a novel way to store cryptocurrency which subsequently creates the option for artwork owners to attract revenue directly to the artworks themselves when displayed publicly. Walletising in layman terms is basically assigning a blockchain wallet address to a unique physical item enabling the ability to essentially use the item as a cryptocurrency wallet.

Other Blockchain Solutions Solving Issues in the Art World

A number of blockchain based art solutions have been created or are in production, with many attempting to tackle the entire art industry at once with hilarious (although shocking) results on occasion. A recent incident saw someone upload a Wikipedia image of the Mona Lisa onto Verisart citing himself as the artist in the record.

Whilst amusing, Verisart is aimed to provide timestamped provenance records rather than authenticating original works directly on the blockchain – an incredibly valuable and worthy service when you consider how much it can cost to find, aggregate and authenticate provenance documentation in general.

How Valuable is a Chain of Provenance?

A prime example illustrating just how valuable a chain of provenance can be is Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi, which at one point changed hands for just £45 pounds at a Sotheby’s auction in 1958 when it was believed to have been painted by Boltraffio (who worked in da Vinci’s studio). The same piece returned to the market in 2005 selling for $10,000 to New York dealer Alexander Parish. Parish, along with a consortium of dealers worked hard to gain sufficient additional provenance to later have the work authenticated as a genuine da Vinci, reselling the same piece in a private sale for around $75 million as a result. If that wasn’t enough – the work changed hands twice more in recent years, most recently in 2017 for $450.3 million.

Blockchain and Artwork Long Term Benefits

As the Verisart example demonstrates – blockchain technology alone cannot and will not immediately solve the provenance issues overnight – especially in cases where the artist is long deceased and/or provenance is scarce or questionable. Where older artwork is concerned, the aggregation, authentication and timestamping of past provenance from established dealers and collectors will eventually rise up to provide extensive ownership chains based upon reputable provenance records collectively.

Artists Already Using The Thomas Crown Art “smART” Service

Meanwhile, for the active artists producing art in today’s marketplace Thomas Crown Art provides a service for artists enabling them to record their artwork onto the blockchain establishing the authenticity of their works whilst at the same time opening the door to new markets and buyers in and around the cryptocurrency sector with the artwork being walletised in the process.

A Simplistic Overview of How it Works:

Learn More About Thomas Crown Art "smART"

Thomas Crown Art currently has a variety of artists using the application which has seen a number of artworks already sold during the development of the application. Active artists are invited to apply to use the service by submitting their details here.

More details about Thomas Crown Art “smART” can be found on our main site here where you can also see currently registered artists and their collections available for sale.

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