Tech Startup Verisart Believes it Can Track Every Artwork Ever Sold—How?

Robert Norton.Photo via Fad Magazine.
Robert Norton.
Photo via Fad Magazine.

If you’ve ever created or owned an artwork, the startup Verisart wants you to let them know about it. Founded by Robert Norton, formerly CEO of art e-commerce sites Saatchi Art and S[edition], Verisart aims to catalogue all artworks, and it’s hoping to crowdsource some of the work.

The LA-based company, backed by Israeli venture capital form Rhodium, plans to launch in September, as reported by Bloomberg. It will employ block chain, a distributed data network, and proprietary image identification software to allow artists to have, according to Norton, “definitive control of their output.”

The project would form something like a catalogue raisonné, a publication that aims to offer a comprehensive catalogue of an individual artist’s work—but for all of art history, apparently.

Previous owners of an artwork, in Norton’s vision, will sign up to add their information to a record of the work’s history, or what experts call provenance.

Might some users have concerns about the security of their information? Databases from Ashley Madison, which organizes extramarital affairs, to the U.S. government’s Office of Personnel Management have been hacked with sensitive information falling into the hands of unknown parties.

“There are sensitivity options that owners of these works will be able to choose,” Norton told Bloomberg.

Norton’s plans include eventually making the site not only into a catalogue of existing artworks, but also a platform to buy art. In that effort, he’s entering a crowded field. And as Art Market Monitor’s Marion Maneker told Bloomberg, the growing art market hasn’t seen aspiring collectors aim to bypass the art market, but rather, “new buyers are flocking to its most established elements.”

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