Come November Christie’s is planning to pilot registering transactions on a blockchain. Artory is the technology partner. The startup aims to record significant events in the lifecycle of artworks and collectibles.
The trial will record the sale of the artworks in the Barney A. Ebsworth Collection, a coveted collection of 20th Century American Art. The proceeds of the combined pieces are expected to be more than $300 million.
Barney Ebsworth, founder of the Clipper Cruise Line and a venture capitalist, passed away earlier this year.
The blockchain registration will record the artwork title, description, final price, and date, and create a digital certificate of the transaction. No personal information about the buyer is recorded. However, Christie’s offers the purchaser a registration card that enables access to the secure record.
Richard Entrup, Chief Information Officer at Christie’s commented: “Our pilot collaboration with Artory is a first among the major global auction houses, and reflects growing interest within our industry to explore the benefits of secure digital registry via blockchain technology.”
Nanne Dekking, CEO of Artory, said: “We are delighted to work with Christie’s on this industry-leading collaboration. As long-standing participants and business leaders within the global art market, the Artory team innately understands the needs of today’s art collectors and the broader desire within the industry to embrace new technologies that will help the marketplace evolve.”
The surprise is that Artory’s first high profile deal is with Christie’s, given Dekking is the former Vice Chairman and head of Private Sales at Sotheby’s. However, Christie’s showed their interest in the sector by organizing the Art + Tech Summit earlier this summer.
During the dotcom era, auction houses were relatively early internet adopters. It seems that pattern may continue.