By Steve Gow. May 5, 2018.

The Problem with Certificates of Authenticity


If you’ve ever bought original artwork then you have probably received a certificate of authenticity (or “COA”) containing details about the work, the artist, the dimensions, the year of creation and other information.  The COA contains details about the work, to which the artist certifies and attests. This is called the “provenance” of the artwork.

As time goes by, provenance information becomes increasingly important for the owner of a work of art.  The importance of provenance increases because the work may increase in value, the artist may pass away or the toll of time may result in a situation where the only proof that the artist actually created the artwork is that tiny piece of paper in your filing drawer or taped to the back of the work.  Even if the artwork is not worth anything, you or your family may want to know who painted it out of sheer interest or a desire to preserve family history.  This is why certificates of authenticity are extremely important to collectors.  However, paper certificates of authenticity are fragile. Paper certificates are susceptible to numerous catastrophic events – they can be lost, damaged, waterlogged, burned, altered, faked, forged or eaten by your dog.

Can technology improve on the critical but flawed certificate of authenticity?  Yes, and preserving critical information is exactly the type of problem blockchain technology can address.

Secure Provenance and Resale


UppstArt is using a next-generation platform for the creation of decentralized applications called the “Ethereum blockchain” (otherwise known as the “Ethereum Virtual Machine”, which admittedly sounds cooler) to securely and immutably record provenance information on the blockchain so that it can never be modified, destroyed, faked or deleted.  When an artist sells a work of art on UppstArt, the provenance of that work, its sale price, the location (city/town) of the buyer and an image of the work are publicly recorded and registered on the Ethereum blockchain, where it will stay and be publicly visible forever.  The information recorded on the blockchain is then included in a digital certificate of authenticity, which lives on the UppstArt website and can be downloaded and printed at any time.

If a buyer ever wants to re-sell the artwork they purchased on UppstArt, they can do so at any time by using our blockchain smart contracts to securely complete transactions with other art lovers.  If the work sells, the transaction information regarding price, location of the buyer, etc. will be recorded on the blockchain and the digital certificate of authenticity will be updated.  Additionally, a resale commission will be paid directly to the original artist every time their work re-sells on UppstArt. You can feel good about re-selling your artwork on UppstArt because you are helping out artists and allowing them to focus on what’s important: making amazing art!

Blockchain = Transparency


By using blockchain technology and smart contracts to buy art,  art buyers have a permanent, unchangeable, publicly-recorded digital record to authenticate their artwork, and they have a way to sell their artwork whenever they want.  No personal information about the buyer or seller is stored on the blockchain, just in case you are worried about that.

Having a public digital record that traces all the way back to the original transaction, where the artist sold the work, creates a unique and new opportunity for artists and buyers of original art.  If a collector buys a work from another collector on UppstArt, they can see not only the provenance information but also the historical sale prices before deciding to purchase the art.  Artists and collectors alike can also track whether an artists’ portfolio of works are increasing in value over time and the city/region the works may be currently located. From the artist’s perspective, this public digital record presents a powerful new tool to track their portfolio after the initial sale.

Take a look at our selection of original artwork on UppstArt here.  With secure provenance, tracking and the ability to re-sell whenever you want, the artwork on UppstArt is truly an investment you can hang on your wall.

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