London’s Art Industry Eyes Potential of Blockchain to Prevent Forgery

Artists and art experts in London, the UK’s biggest art hub, are actively seeking ways of incorporating blockchain into the sale of artworks.

The UK has been touted as a potential pioneer of blockchain technology, but now artists in its biggest city are beginning to explore ways of solving provenance issues, such as authenticity fraud, which have a long history in the industry.

Artists believe blockchain holds tremendous promise for the industry as a viable means of maintaining transparency in artwork sales and ending the problem of artwork forgery.

 “[Blockchain] will benefit and liberate the arts industry in many ways. If the artist uses the technology from the first sale, issues like provenance in future sales are automatically solved. Auction houses and committees of experts will not enjoy the monopoly they have now and more players will be able to participate in the art market,” said Lorenzo Belenguer, Spanish painter and arts writer based in London.

“More transparency makes it easier to identify transactions and for the artist to collect a droit de suit – a percentage of resale profits.”

Valued at 9.2 billion pounds ($12 billion) in 2017 by The British Art Market Federation (TBAMF), the UK art market is the second largest in the world. Artists in London, among them Belenguer, believe that blockchain will afford them greater power and authority over their artworks.

“I already accept payments through bitcoin. Hopefully, digital currencies will become more stable in the future. I’d like to see pilot projects becoming standard by 2020 and mainstream in the arts industry by 2025,” Belenguer said.

While the cryptocurrency market has seen dramatic losses over the course of 2018, blockchain (the technology which underpins cryptocurrencies) is seen by many as the frontier of a new digital revolution. It could just be the technology that helps eliminate forgery in the art market worldwide.