How Smart Certificates Of Authenticity Improve Art Asset Management

Self-authenticated artwork by @cryptograffiti using @blockchainartcollective technology

Art asset management has benefitted from a slew of new technology lately. RFID chips, blockchain registration, and databases for artwork have all come into vogue in recent years.

The problem is, no one individual solution addresses the biggest issue still in play — the missing link between the physical work of art and its digital life in a database or on a blockchain. Without that connection, there’s a wide security gap in the system that bad actors can use to their advantage.

Many of the current tech solutions for asset management aren’t particularly secure.

Digital information can be changed or erased from a database with surprising ease. And physical artwork is still vulnerable to counterfeiters and black market dealers.

It’s been my team’s goal at the Blockchain Art Collective to solve the issue of this missing link. And we’re confident our smart certificates of authenticity (COA) are the solution for our current lack of security and disconnected systems.

Here’s how they’ll dramatically improve art asset management:

A smart certificate of authenticity connects an artwork’s physical and digital identities.

This solution gives the artwork a fixed physical and digital identity as one bundle.

The mechanics behind the COA is simple. It’s a small, tamper-evident seal that can inconspicuously be attached to a work of art. Since the COA is smart — connected with IoT technology — it’s able to connect to a blockchain. So once the certificate has been affixed to artwork and the piece has been registered to our blockchain, the physical-digital link is in effect.

And that identity stays with the physical work of art for the duration of its existence.

The metadata stored by the NFC chip inside the seal is permanently saved and cannot be altered. It can be subsequently added to, but you can’t erase what’s already there. That connection between the object itself and its life on the blockchain is at the heart of what makes our solution different from anything that’s come before it.

It secures inventory and improves legitimacy.

The COA is uncomplicated, yet incredibly effective when it comes to securing data.

When the seal is scanned using an NFC device, public information about the piece, stored on the blockchain, becomes available to the user. That person immediately knows this piece is the physical object that’s been authenticated and registered to a blockchain. He or she is able to see the artist, any history about the artwork, and the value.

Once the COA is attached to the work of art, that piece cannot be swapped out for a counterfeit — which would lack the seal.

It also means copycats will be unable to register false data related to that artwork.

In the physical world, the certificate is rendered void if it’s tampered with. A small antenna within the NFC chip breaks apart when someone attempts to remove or alter the seal. This creates a strong incentive not to tamper with the certificate. Because if it is removed, that action negatively impacts the provable provenance of the piece.

The smart technology keeps a more permanent record with the artwork.

Authentication in provenance is particularly hard to prove because it involves all the disjointed pieces of information, claims, and rumors about the artwork.

It’s a bit like the oral tradition. Everyone has an idea of what’s happened, but no two people will agree on exactly how the story goes. A smart COA provides the data behind the art. It’s about taking that oral tradition and writing it down, making it explicit, and ensuring it can’t be tampered with.

Over time, this will deter people from trying to counterfeit art or make false claims to ownership and provenance. It’s easy to reference the record on blockchain and find the truth.

Right now, we’re incredibly excited about the opportunities our team at the Blockchain Art Collective holds for artists and institutions.


Thanks for reading!

We’re encouraging anyone who’s interested in authenticating artwork to try our starter kit. We’re also looking for artists and institutions to sign up for our working group and help us chart the path forward.

We also know that our users are unique, and not everyone has the exact same needs. If you have questions about customization of the app or solution, don’t hesitate to contact us.