August 28, 2018updated 04 Jan 2019 4:36pm

Art becomes a cryptocurrency wallet with the launch of anti-forgery blockchain technology

By Lucy Ingham

Art can now be used as a cryptocurrency wallet with the launch of a blockchain system designed to combat art forgery.

The art technology service, Thomas Crown Art, is the brainchild of art dealer Stephen Howes and technology expert Ian McLeod.

It is first and foremost a blockchain-backed system to prevent art forgery, but has the added benefit of allowing owners of blockchain-authenticated artwork to used their paintings as a cryptocurrency wallet. This means owners will be able to store digital records of their cryptocurrecy within the art’s blockchain record.

“We’ve created an innovative solution for artists and art collectors providing the ability to use new works of art as a literal ‘store of value’ and serve as a cryptocurrency wallet for owners whilst providing an independent method to conclusively prove the provenance of artwork quickly and easily, and to view an immutable chain of ownership,” explained Ian McLeod.

Beating art forgery with blockchain

Blockchain is being used to transform a host of industries, from electric vehicles and cybersecurity to music and the meat industry. However, it has real potential in the art industry due to the rampant issue of fraud.

“Forgeries are, unfortunately, a growing and serious problem in the art world. The fraudsters, who are getting better and better at producing both fake artwork and provenance documentation, have been wreaking havoc throughout the market in the last couple of years,” said Stephen Howes.

“Art crime is a huge business. However, I believe going forward, both art and provenance forgery can be stamped out with the clever use of blockchain/decentralised ledger technology at the point the artwork is created.”

By connecting artworks to blockchain at the point of creation, authenticating a painting or other work becomes a far more reliable process.

“We’ve created an innovative solution for artists and art collectors providing the ability to use new works of art as a literal ‘store of value’ and serve as a cryptocurrency wallet for owners whilst providing an independent method to conclusively prove the provenance of artwork quickly and easily, and to view an immutable chain of ownership,” explained McLeod.

“Using a blockchain to authenticate artwork is an ideal use-case for distributed ledger technology. It provides the ability to store a permanent, immutable record of artwork at the point of creation which can be used to authenticate registered works by anyone with an internet connection.”

Making art a cryptocurrency wallet

While the art forgery prevention element of the technology is undoubtedly the most valuable aspect of the technology, making it possible to use physical artworks as a cryptocurrency wallet is an unorthodox and potentially revolutionary aspect to Thomas Crown Art’s offering.

“At Thomas Crown Art we’ve gone a step further and created a mechanism to use physical artwork as a store of value by ‘walletising’ each piece of art and linking it to a Certificate of Provenance stored on the blockchain in a ‘smART contract’ – enabling the option to use the physical artwork itself as a wallet making it capable of storing cryptocurrency,” said McLeod.