Using Blockchain Technology to Fight Counterfeit Artworks

Blockchain technology despite still being in its infancy is already showing a great deal of promise as far as disrupting diverse areas of the business process is concerned. One particular area that seems to be catching on of recent is in the world of fine art. According to an article on Bloomberg, Verisart, a blockchain startup based in the United States is trying to use the technology behind Bitcoin and Ethereum to provide a trusted means of validating the authenticity of artworks.

A Blockchain-Based Framework for Provenance

Counterfeiting is a problem that is as old as art itself and has remained a big issue despite concerted efforts to create a workable framework that can be used to ascertain the authenticity of an artwork. Individuals like John Myatt, widely regarded as the perpetrator of the biggest art fraud of the 20th century, have created an unwanted notoriety for the business as a whole.

Provenance remains the biggest hurdle to any efforts geared towards developing a framework for the validation of artworks. Provenance has to do with the history of ownership of an artwork. The inability to develop a robust provenance matrix has left the art world to become one of the largest unregulated markets in the world. In fact, it is second only to the illicit drug trade.

Verisart plans to leverage blockchain technology to provide a robust provenance framework for artworks. The company began in 2015 as a smartphone app that artists could use to create their own verification protocols. According to Rob Norton, the founder of the company, Verisart works closely with artists developing protocols that can enable them to create their own customizable certificates to authenticate their works. Part of the end goal for Verisart is the creation of a blockchain-based art registry that would account for a significant portion of the artworks in the world.

One of the artists who makes use of the Verisart platform is Philip Colbert, a contemporary artist. As part of his own unique authentication certificates, there are image hashes embedded in every reproduced piece. These hashes contain minute representations of the artwork embedded in them.

Shepard Fairey, is another artist associated with Verisart. In fact, he has even invested in the company and has expressed his excitement at the prospects of a digital certification framework for artworks. Fairey is one artist whose works are constantly being copied and as such, authentication and verification have become important to him.

An Expanding Field of Application

Verisart isn’t the only player in the field pursuing blockchain solutions to problems in the art world. Another startup company called Codex is looking to leverage blockchain technology in creating a provenance framework for all forms of collectibles such as artworks, antiques, jewelry etc. The company has already received investment from Pantera Capital, the hedge fund firm.

Provenance isn’t the only problem that Codex is trying to solve as it is also working on a blockchain-powered bidding solution dubbed Biddable. Codex wants to simplify the bidding process by eliminating the tedious and cumbersome financial disclosure steps usually taken during a bidding process.

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