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Does Christie’s record breaking $318m art sale herald a new level of acceptance for blockchain?

On November 13th, 42 pieces of art from the Barney A. Ebsworth Collection (including work by Jackson Pollock, William de Kooning, Charles Demuth and Georgia O’Keeffe) was sold at Christie’s auction house in New York for $317,801,250.

At first glance aside this looks like just another ultra-high value art sale on a night that saw an incredible 13 new auction records set with Hopper’s ‘Chop Suey’ alone selling for over $91m. However, there is a little more the Ebsworth deal; the sale has immediately become the most expensive art auction ever to involve a blockchain.

After the auction, Christie’s revealed all of the details relating to the different lots in the auction had been managed by art technology specialists Artory’s private Ethereum blockchain.

Artory’s permissioned blockchain, known as “The Registry”, recorded all of the most important details relating to each piece including the number of and dates of any previous sales, the final prices realised by each sale and information regarding any restorations or thefts. The only information not stored is the identity of owners so that the privacy of all of the collectors and investors involved remains confidential.

By storing and making all of this information available, any interested parties could immediately access a secure and unequivocal digital history of the pieces they were interested in. Both Christie’s and Artory believe that by employing blockchain technology neither the buyer nor the auctioneer will no longer need to worry about buying or selling fakes or falling victim to international art fraud.

And this is only the first stage of the partnership Christie’s and Artory announced in October.

On Thursday 22nd November a further 49 pieces from the Ebsworth collection will go to auction again using Artory’s permission blockchain as the collection edges closer to achieving the total of $300m experts have predicted.

Contact our Art Dispute Litigation Lawyers, London

Art litigation is a complex area of the law but our solicitors have a long and successful history of resolving disputes over the ownership and authenticity of art and disputes involving art fraud and art money laundering. If you’d like to discuss an dispute or fraud involving a work of art, please call us today on 0203 131 0564 or complete our online contact form.

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