If you think about it, blockchain is perfect for fine art.
The decentralized nature of the blockchain makes authenticating documents a logical early application. Since there is no ability to manipulate the document in the hands of a single or few actors alone, documents cryptographically stamped into the blockchain as the authentic document can be relied upon as the original artifact. In essence, the early use case of the blockchain is to provide an 'Apostille' or certificate of authenticity for the document.
So when it comes to fine art, authenticating letters or certificates of authenticity is a logical extension of this. But its use for fine art doesn't stop there. If you can authenticate the 'original artifact' of a letter of authenticity, then you can authenticate a record of who owns the asset underlying that document. If we know that that record cannot be manipulated by the one or the few, then there is certainty too that at a given time the person named on the title is the person who has been entered as the owner of that asset.
This combination of the use of blockchain as an authentication and title mechanism naturally relies heavily on the quality of the information that is entered. If we say that Pete Smith is the owner of the Mona Lisa, that would be an authenticated entry in the sense that the document confirming this statement is the original artifact, and can't be unilaterally manipulated from there. But it wouldn't be true, and would not give any comfort at all to a buyer in any purported sale by Pete Smith. It is a classic case of 'garbage in equals garbage out'.
Given blockchain's potential for fine art, there are already a good number of startups with blockchain platforms promising good things from authenticated letters of authenticity, to art title registers, to purchasing 'shares' in works of fine art to token driven curated registries where users would be token incentivized to select fine art 'worthy' of inclusion in the platform. There are a handful already up and running providing quickly -produced blockchain verified 'certificates of authenticity'.
However, the question needs to be asked: who is monitoring the submitted information or taking steps to verify that the information is correct? After all, Pete Smith could plug in the Mona Lisa and receive a nice stamp of 'authenticity' and 'title'.
The next question is who decides which fine art is eligible for the platform. And this is where there is difference and disagreement. One platform is promising to have its users decide. Others let you stamp in any work, regardless of who produced it. The latter produces a platform which has a wide range of quality on it, in tune with the objective of aggregating the platform at any cost. So the question is whether a platform widely populated or including other collectibles should be, or could be a destination for fine art collectors.
We say that it shouldn't be. The Fine Art Ledger has been developed from the collector's perspective. Our mission is to make fine art more accessible and to improve trust and transparency in the fine art buying and selling process.
Our primary objective is to build a platform solely populated with works of fine art which are of a certain quality in which a collector would take interest. A constant question is, so all well and good but who decides? The answer is we do. But we do so in accordance with a simple philosophy. We only admit works which have a secondary market or a strong secondary market potential.
We are also very conscious of the need to take steps to verify submitted work detail and to verify title. This is one reason why working with art professionals; dealers and galleries is so important to us. It is also why our process for stamping works into the blockchain is not instantaneous and you may be asked a few questions before we stamp your work into our platform.
While verifying information we receive is not an exact science by any means, and there is no guaranty that there may be discrepancies, it certainly is a measured approach, and one we prefer to our competitors in building a true fine art decentralized ledger, being a destination of choice for fine art collectors.
We'll see you there!
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