Fraud has been in existence across all walks of life for centuries; the art world is no different. From as early as the Roman Empire, have there been well-documented cases of fraudulent artists. Nowadays due to the difficulty in verifying provenance, fraudulent activities continue to raise their ugly head, proving an unwelcome Bloch on the art world’s canvas. The ever present problem seems only exacerbated by the growing interest in fine art from the far corners of the globe. Investors from America, Russia and China are sending prices into an astronomical new era. Earlier this year a painting entitled Women of Algiers by Pablo Picasso, was sold at Christies in New York for an astounding £115 Million. A recipe, which has only fuelled the increase in fake reproductions. You would think though, that safeguards would be enforced to ensure that investor’s money isn’t misplaced. Unfortunately this has proved not to be the case.
Picasso, Braque and Cezanne these three artists arguably carved the future of modern art, all however have been targeted by fraudsters looking for an early retirement. In the 19th century a fraudulent sculpture even found its way into the highly credited and world famous Louvre art gallery in central Paris. Until now the only way of guarantying authenticity has been by certification or expert opinion, Blockchain however could be about to change all that.
Verisart a new start-up company based in California, is to adopt the public ledger used by Bitcoin to document, certify and verify art work. This comes on the back of a revolution in secondary applications of Blockchain. As of now, verifying the truth behind anything has become a very real possibility. Verisart aims to create an international ledger of art, storing information on provenance and value. The move is to be coupled with museum data records to create a general database. Now galleries, investors and auction houses need only reference the piece within the “virtual spreadsheet” to ensure its validity. Naturally this potentially could stop fraudsters from passing off their fake reproductions as genuine masterpieces. Saving collectors and investors alike millions of pounds.
It is believed that Blockchain would also offer anonymity for both galleries and potential owners, something which is key granted the vast sums of money involved. Additionally the move could well benefit insurers, with almost real time verification of authenticity. Verisart could well have paved the way to a crime free art world.
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