Major auction house Christie’s has made history by tracking $317.8 million worth of art auctions via blockchain, as one of the greatest privately owned collections of American Modernist art went under the hammer overnight.
In a record-breaking slew of auctions, 42 pieces were sold, with details of the auctions recorded on a permissioned (private) implementation of the Ethereum blockchain managed by software company Artory.
Bidders hailing from 23 countries competed to own a prestigious collection curated by Barney A. Ebsworth, featuring artists such as Georgia O’Keeffee, Edward Hopper, Charles Demuth, Jackson Pollock, and Willem de Kooning.
The Edward Hopper piece, Chop Suey, sold for an eye-watering $91,875,000. Jackson Pollock’s Composition with Red Strokes garnered a whopping $55,437,500 all on it’s own.
Artory’s distributed ledger system records significant events (like going under auction) in the lifecycle of artworks and collectibles in a blockchain it calls The Registry.
The blockchain stores encrypted data related to item titles, descriptions, auction dates, and final prices, but not the identities of owners, which keeps all parties strictly anonymous.
Art-buyers are also provided a secure digital record of the history of each artwork, with digital certificates generated every time it gets sold. The idea is that this provides the greater art market with a certain confidence in an artworks’ ongoing provenance.
This Thursday, a further 49 works from the Ebsworth collection is set for auction, with those sales being written into a blockchain as well. According to Christie’s, the running total for this auction season currently sits at just under $650 million.