The art world witnessed an extraordinary auction on November 13th at the Christie’s Auction House in New York. Not only the collection of the late Barney A. Ebsworth raised over $300 million, setting the new world auction records for Edward Hopper and Willem de Kooning, but also for the first-time-ever, the results of the major auction sale were recorded using blockchain technology. To do so, Christie’s has collaborated with Artory, the leading independent blockchain-based registry for the art market built on Ethereum Blockchain.

Artory’s Registry, built on the public blockchain, creates a system for vetting, memorializing and protecting transactional data, while simultaneously allowing the artwork’s owner to stay completely anonymous. One of the critical differences between Artory and similar services is that the company uses third-party vetted service providers, such as auction houses, to supply the data for their registry, creating a reputational guarantee that the information is correct.

Weeks before the auction Richard Entrup, CIO at Christie’s, commented in a press release: ‘Our pilot collaboration with Artory … reflects growing interest within our industry to explore the benefits of secure digital registry via blockchain technology.’

However, things weren’t as optimistic just a few years ago. In 2016 when Jason Rosenstein, CEO of Portion, a decentralized online auction house for luxury goods and rare collectibles, spoke with Christie's and Sotheby’s auctions about a potential collaboration, both weren’t ready to explore adding this technology to their authentication process. Both auction houses suggested that their brand and reputation ensured the authenticity of the works of art and didn’t feel necessary to use a decentralized database.

Today, Portion offers an open market exchange of digital and physical works with a mission ‘to cater to younger collectors by partnering with notable brands and establishing relations with living artists.’

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