Category Archives: Christies

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Christie’s Art Auction House Adopts Blockchain Technology

Christie’s art auction house has announced that they will be integrating blockchain technology into the auction of ‘An American Place: The Barney A. Ebsworth Collection’ during November 2018, where they will be selling numerous pieces of art that are collectively worth USD 300 million. It is major news that Christie’s is going to be using blockchain, since they are perhaps the biggest art auction house in the world. In the first half of 2018 alone Christie’s auctioned USD 4.04 billion of art.

Christie’s will provide successful bidders with an encrypted certificate that includes relevant information about the artwork. The certificate will be immutable and stored on a blockchain and is provided via a partnership with Artory, which runs the Artory Registry — a blockchain powered database for artwork. All information about the lifecycle of an artwork, including past sales, valuations, and exhibitions will be in the database and accessible with the certificate. This certificate stored on the blockchain provides irrefutable proof of authenticity, which protects buyers and sellers, and can increase the value of the artwork. This is better than a typical bill of sale since the blockchain certificate for each artwork cannot be lost as it is immutably stored on a blockchain.

The Chief Information Officer at Christie’s, Richard Entrup, says “Our pilot collaboration with Artory is a first among the major global auction houses, and reflects growing interest within our industry to explore the benefits of secure digital registry via blockchain technology. The entrepreneurial spirit of the Ebsworth family and their embrace of leading-edge technology makes Christie’s November sale of the Ebsworth Collection an ideal platform for our clients to experience this technology for themselves and to explore the advantages of having a secure encrypted record of information about their purchased artwork”.

The CEO of Artory, Nanne Deking, says “We are delighted to work with Christie’s on this industry-leading collaboration. As long-standing participants and business leaders within the global art market, the Artory team innately understands the needs of today’s art collectors and the broader desire within the industry to embrace new technologies that will help the marketplace evolve. This November, Artory is pleased to work with Christie’s and the Ebsworth family to mark the start of a blockchain digital journey for each work in this spectacular collection, and to show the art world how digital encryption technology can benefit buyers and collectors in the future”.

Christie’s has a long history of setting the trend in the art world technology wise, being pioneers in online bidding, livestreaming auctions, mobile bidding registration, augmented reality apps, and now blockchain technology. Perhaps the rest of the art world will begin using blockchain technology in the near future for securely and immutably tracking and authenticating artwork.

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Sharing Art on Blockchain: The New Way to Afford the Unaffordable

Fine art has gained another way to be appreciated with Masterworks and Ethereum’s blockchain offering collectors a whole new option: sharing.

With only 1% of the population being in the income bracket able to own a da Vinci or a Picasso, or unless the buyer has a spare USD 450 million in small change, about the price that da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi fetched at New York Christie’s last year, fine art is largely out of reach for most.

Enter blockchain, opening up a whole new landscape of its own when it comes to the world of fine art, thanks to the likes of Masterworks, Maecenas, CoArt and other such companies in a growing sector which offers the opportunity to utilize new technology to offer accessibility to the not-so-rich collector.

Masterworks continued the trend earlier this year when it announced its blockchain-based scheme to develop a platform where investors could grab a share of a Warhol by purchasing tokens. Maecenas offers blockchain certificates with its ART token to facilitate easy exchange of certification. Falsification is impossible due to the protection of provenance information courtesy of cryptography.

Another platform, CoArt, tokenizes its pieces enabling part ownership of expensive pieces, such as Pablo Picasso’s Buste de Mousquetaire in which the purchase was shared by 25,000 investors earlier this year.

So, is this the future of valuable fine art ownership? Masterworks marketing VP Richard McBeath thinks that it may well be, suggesting, “It might not be about disruption, but it could very well become the standard in the art world… It’s about bringing in investors that have no real access to the world… [with] our model, there is also little chance of “centralization” as one investor can only hold 10% of an artwork.”

The point of decentralization is all about offering the world’s population the opportunity, rich or poor, of being connected to the global economy, whether it be growing cocoa beans in Ghana or harvesting rice in Taiwan and following its progress on the supply chain. Why should the appreciation of fine art through part ownership be that different? In this way, blockchain is becoming a powerful tool in democratizing markets, whether they be food, real estate or art.

A USD 20 token share in a Warhol can do just that.


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