How Blockchain is Changing the Art Industry

Blockchain technology is more prevalent than much of the public realizes. It is still in its infancy, but many companies are employing their own private blockchains. Public blockchains, like Bitcoin and Ethereum are what most people are familiar with. Their advantages extend much further than the internal efficiencies promised by private blockchains. The art world is turning to blockchain to solve issues plaguing the industry. Some of the problems facing the art industry include:

  • antiquated property transactions
  • illegal activities
  • inefficiency in the auction process

 

Art is an international business. Buying and selling, as well as auction practices, need a blockchain based common ledger. It would serve as a neutral medium for international transactions to take place. But, blockchain technology is more than just a digital ledger. It enables elaborate new methods for data management. Blockchain improves value chains because of its distributed and transparent approach to record keeping. In addition to revolutionizing data management practices, blockchain shows a resounding proficiency to thwart both fraud and tax evasion.

 

Transparency is critical to the value chain of art ownership. Blockchain technology certifies transactions with tokens. Tokens transfer from buyers to seller at purchase. They transfer each time a piece is sold. Blockchain tracks the ownership record. This transparent and distributed ledger enables anyone to view the entire history of a piece. Fraud is minimized because any potential buyer can simply examine the owner’s claim via their crypto wallet.

 

Blockchain expects to impact all areas of the art industry. It directly affects:

  • artists
  • collectors
  • investors
  • auction houses

 

Artists, especially visual ones, believe in blockchain security. Uniquely coded virtual pieces represent a growing trend. These unique strings of code serve to authenticate purchases for collectors and artist compensation. Registrations are viewable alongside corresponding time-stamps. Auction houses are incorporating digital certification to improve operations through increased transparency and secured long-term records. Art investors have taken advantage of blockchain tokenization to promote fractional investments. Since ownership is ensured on a malleable digital platform, investors can purchase and liquidate pieces of art as easily as trading stocks.

 

Art records have historically been the subject of intense scrutiny. Blockchain technology brings a new solution that many professionals are praising.

Art Collecting’s Technological Transition

The world of art collecting is being transformed by apps like Artland, Artsy, and Magnus, as well as websites like Paddle8. These resources bring the hobby of art collecting to people who cannot frequent gallery shows and art auctions, leveling the playing field among collectors. While these options broaden the pool of potential buyers, they have been met with resistance from those heavily involved in the art scene.

 

Each technological option operates in its own way. Artland, for instance, charges galleries a monthly subscription fee to list pieces on their service, through which both aspiring and seasoned collectors offer bids for individual pieces. Artsy focuses on educating novice collectors on the practice of art collection, and, like Artland, offers galleries a monthly subscription to show their pieces. Magnus serves as an aid to those attending shows and auctions, allowing the collector to capture a picture of the piece in question with their phone and run it through a database that estimates its potential value based on the artist’s other works. Paddle8 operates as an online auction house that has recently stepped into the future by collaborating with The Native to orchestrate auctions accepting bitcoin.

 

Each forum is designed to bring art to the masses, but current collectors hesitate to accept them. Many are concerned with robbing art collection of its exclusivity and mystique. By having prices available, the art world runs the risk of becoming an open market instead of an invitation only world, bringing prices down. Conversely, supporters of these apps praise them for their openness and demand even more transparency; only one third of the pieces listed on Artsy include prices, which is a staunch difference between Paddle8, which makes it a point to be upfront about monetary details.

 

Despite conflicting views, apps like Artland are poised to launch the world of art collecting into the future. Forbes quotes CEO Mattis Curth, “Until now, the art world has been small. Lowering barriers to entry will lead to a bigger market.” Without these barriers that the pioneers in art collecting’s digital age intend to complete their mission: to bring the art world out of its selective community and into the light, where any art lover has the power to view and purchase collections they otherwise would not have seen.