Since its official launch in 2016, the blockchain-based art registry Artory has been leading the push in making crypto-technology more than just a buzzword in the art world. With $7.3 million raised in Series A funding, it just got its biggest vote of confidence yet.
Among the investors are Hasso Plattner Capital and David Williams, a general partner at California-based 2020 Ventures, an investor and stakeholder in companies like Spotify, Postmates, and The RealReal. “The Artory Registry brings transparency and trust to an industry that is overly exclusive and opaque. In many ways similar to how Spotify re-invigorated the music industry, we believe Artory is poised to transform the art industry by offering collectors and buyers a trusted place to research provenance, conduct due diligence, and make more informed purchasing decisions,” Williams commented in a release.
Artory’s blockchain-based ledger tracks vetted provenance and data on recorded sales with the aim of increasing transparency in the shadowy global art market, which is valued at $67.4bn currently. “We like platforms that address difficult industry barriers and open large markets to a broader range of participants and transactions,” Williams added.
Nanne Dekking, Artory’s founder and chief executive who is also the chairman of TEFAF (The European Fine Art Foundation), said in a statement: “By exceeding our initial goal with our Series A funding round, we’ve proven that the Artory Registry is a viable commercial product that will change the way collectors and buyers engage with the marketplace for fine art and collectibles.” The money, according to Dekking, will largely be used to further vet the registry’s data and build out the platform’s functionality. “We’re not just making a list of reported sale prices like Artnet’s database, we are building something that has to be vetted, accurate and easily searchable to show the depth of information behind every artwork,” Dekking said. “Our product is ultimately not the platform itself, it’s data integrity, and that takes time and money.”
While $7.3m in funding may seem little in the venture capital world, it does represent validation and some promise given the industry’s notorious slow adaptability of emerging technology, blockchain in particular. Artory, in addition to other crypto competitors like Codex and Verisart, have been testing the industry’s possible use of their technology by partnering with existing marketplace platforms to track sales.
In November of last year, Christie’s became the first major auction house to use blockchain technology to its consignments when it sold a collection of 20th-century works with encrypted provenance records via the Artory Registry
The round of funding comes after Artory’s acquisition of Auction Club in March, a move that brought Artory more than 22 million individual records from 4,000 auction houses. Auction Club is a subscription-only database that hosts sales information from auction houses around the world and Artory’s integration of its data into its registry will make all records public for the first-time since they have archived in the 1970’s.
“People always call me the Debbie Downer of blockchain because I don’t believe it will help the art trade to just start a new sales channel or create new ways to buy art using this technology,” Dekking said. The auction houses have been pillars in the marketplace for over two centuries, “and you can’t just upend that overnight,” he added, noting that Artory’s mission is to simply improve the industry with more “accuracy and accountability”.