ArteQuesta: Securing Art On The Blockchain
Rayah Levy, Founder and CEO of ArteQuesta, has been involved in the art industry since 2002, and launched ArteQuesta in 2011. ArteQuesta evolved from Levy’s passion for integrating art and finance. According to Levy, art is one of the oldest forms of commerce — and a solid long term investment, “When art is owned, it can provide the owner with freedom as it is largely a recession-proof asset; it can be sold anywhere,” states Levy.
“With art, it has been a form of commerce throughout history, and used as a source for both good and bad; enriching a culture or looting to annihilate another. It has value internationally in any currency.” — Rayah Levy, Founder and CEO at ArteQuesta
Levy is attracted to Bitcoin for two reasons, the first is Blockchain technology. In January this year, the Supreme Court dealt a blow to the Norton Simon Museum, by refusing to review a legal ruling which jeopardizes their ownership of a collection know as the Adam and Eve paintings. The paintings, by Lucas Cranach the Elder, are amongst the museum’s most prized possessions. However, according to Marei Von Saher, the pieces were looted from her father in law. Levy explains, “In countries all over the world, artifacts are looted and the due process for recovering them can take decades, if they are even successful at all.”
“With Bitcoin’s Blockchain, the History of Ownership is in the public ledger and allows for transparency the art world needs in one of the most important areas,” — Levy
ArteQuesta currently is developing software which tracks art, and its provenance. “We plan to incorporate Bitcoin’s technology to use the Blockchain public ledger to track Certificates of Authenticity and market value purchases from buyer to buyer,” said Levy.
To refine the ArteQuesta Fine Art Portfolio Management software the company is considering some key partners with Bitcoin industry leaders including; Factom, a company which provides a data layer for the blockchain and focuses on database management and record-keeping; and Proofofexistence.com, to time stamp and embed authenticity of documentation in the blockchain.
“Through the Blockchain, we can actually track and ‘attach’ the Certificate of Authenticity as a file, and keep it in the Blockchain’s public ledger. What this means for the art world is revolutionary. Both new investors and seasoned wealthy collectors can now use the Blockchain to track the history of ownership of artworks, which has significant historic implications,” — Levy
The second reason Levy is attracted to Bitcoin is the decentralized nature of the currency, “With Bitcoin, it gives power to the people in a whole new way. With no middle man, Bitcoin has the power to change the world by freeing people from the financial, social, governmental laws that control the money supply and how it can be used. The power it has to uplift humanity is like nothing I have seen outside of art,” exclaims Levy.
“[Bitcoin] gives the people using it power over their purchases and ‘money supply’, much like what we have been doing with art as investment.” — Levy
Bitcoin industry headlines last year were littered with companies announcing the acceptance of Bitcoin. It’s notorious volatility has seen a myriad of businesses immediately liquidating the digital currency. However, ArteQuesta will keep a portion of its profits in Bitcoin, “We all know that the value of the USD declines over the years due to inflation, and that Bitcoin will eventually rise in value over the years because it is a deflationary currency” explains Levy.
“Only 21 million bitcoins will ever be created. So, our current plan when we get paid in BTC, during these current times of volatility is that we will keep a percentage of the profit (funds not associated with the direct purchasing of our clients artwork), in BTC and exchange the remaining percentage of it for USD after the funds are received.” — Levy
Levy believes once the art world, and investment markets, catch on to the combined benefits of Bitcoin a new form of art appraisal may take hold. “If this can happen, then art can be bought and sold based on Bitcoin value without the transfer of USD,” said Levy
ArteQueste’s view on Bitcoin, and the underlying technologies shows just how far the disruptive technology can go. With a strong grasp on the technology, and benefits, Levy is clearly on the road less traveled: Art and Bitcoin.
By, B Holmes featuring Rayah Levy
Brave New Coin, April 9, 2015: