Rembrandt’s Etching Captured on Blockchain – Fight Against Art Fraud

A 17th-century etching by Rembrandt was immortalized with the help of four blockchains. Validating art in this way would have two advantages: the objects are better protected and the authenticity is easier to establish.

The validation of Rembrandt’s ‘The Virgin and Child in the Clouds’ took place earlier this week at Douwes Fine Art, one of Europe’s oldest art galleries. In addition to Douwes, two other parties were involved in the validation process: law firm CMS, and validation company V-ID.


Rembrandt in chains

The validation process is reasonably clear. First of all, authentic data is collected. All unique characteristics are recorded, such as material, formats, and the history of the work. Using macro photography, these data can be viewed in detail.

All these data are placed in a so-called validation file. This sounds more complicated than it is: a PDF file in which all the information is listed. The information is checked and then stored in the blockchain.

Need a third party?

Law firm CMS was involved in the validation as a third party. Is that necessary? Femke Stroucken, a partner at CMS, talks about the considerations here: “By building in an authorisation check of the parties at the front of such applications, the reliability of the information on the blockchain is increased. After all, it is important to know that the person who issues such a certificate is also authorised to do so.”

In short, it increases confidence in the procedure. In the result, but also in the people involved. And that is important for the art world, where there is some scepticism about innovations like this.

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