Is Blockchain The Right Solution For The Auction Houses?

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Today, Elena Zavelev, the Founder & CEO of New Art Academy, and a contributor at Forbes.com, published her take on whether blockchain will become a solution for auction houses and the art market in the future. The Christie’s auction and registration of the Ebsworth Collection on the Artory Registry, was one of the featured developments in the article. The Ebsworth Collection auction, held November 13th and 14th, totaled more than $320M USD, breaking several World Auction Records including the $91M sale of Edward Hoppers Chop Suey, and was the first ever auction to be recorded onto the blockchain.

Auction houses were not always this keen on working with blockchain technology.

In 2016 when Jason Rosenstein, CEO of Portion, a decentralized online auction house for luxury goods and rare collectibles, spoke with Christie’s and Sotheby’s auctions about a potential collaboration, both weren’t ready to explore adding this technology to their authentication process. Both auction houses suggested that their brand and reputation ensured the authenticity of the works of art and didn’t feel necessary to use a decentralized database.

So what changed?

The success of Bitcoin cryptocurrency and the attention to the blockchain it provoked, may be one of the reasons. Jason Bailey, the founder of Artnome and an advisor to Portion suggests that ‘the lack of good data has led to a major problem with forgery and misattribution,’ and the fact that Christie’s used ‘blockchain for the Ebsworth collection is an early step towards data transparency and improved provenance.’ Bailey also suggests that ‘the art market currently fails to support most working artists in any meaningful way.’ Portion and similar services provide an opportunity for the artists to get royalties for the works of art they create.