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Stamping Out Art Forgery with Cryptocurrency

The marriage of art and technology has the potential to stamp out art forgery, making it a thing of the past by using blockchain technology, according to Thomas Crown Art. The art-tech agency, established by art dealer Stephen Howes and technology expert Ian McLeod, has created smART (Smart Art).

In an effort to eradicate counterfeit and provenance fraud, the company has created what it calls an innovative solution for artists and art collectors. The art itself has incorporated into it the underlying infrastructure on which cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum are based. According to its website, smART uses a system that transforms a physical work of art into a form of Blockchain Wallet, which contains an incorruptible, immutable and publicly verifiable certificate of provenance.

“Forgeries are, unfortunately, a growing and serious problem in the art world,” Howes said. “The fraudsters, who are getting better and better at producing both fake artwork and provenance documentation, have been wreaking havoc throughout the market in the last couple of years.”

Art crime has long been a lucrative business. Howe and McLeod see using blockchain and decentralization ledger technology at the point the artwork is created as a viable solution to both art and provenance forgery.

The company is providing what McLeod said is “the ability to use new works of art as a literal ‘store of value’ and serve as a cryptocurrency wallet for owners whilst providing an independent method to conclusively prove the provenance of artwork quickly and easily and to view an immutable chain of ownership."

“Using a blockchain to authenticate artwork is an ideal use-case for distributed ledger technology," he continued. "It provides the ability to store a permanent, immutable record of artwork at the point of creation which can be used to authenticate registered works by anyone with an internet connection.”

All Thomas Crown Art artwork and prints are recorded onto the blockchain with their own unique smart contract so that the owner of the artwork is able to control the ownership of the piece using the work's QR code and the artwork certificate.

“Using this cutting-edge technology, the art world can eradicate one of its biggest and most expensive problems – forgery – and can protect artists, galleries and private owners and collectors,” McLeod said.

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