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While Bitcoin has long been recognized as payment method for companies and organizations such as Microsoft, Greenpeace and Wikipedia, blockchain technology is only slowly gaining a foothold in the art market. A general degree of skepticism among individual market players toward society's digital transformation may be to blame. Blockchain’s successful implementation in the art market would mean more clarity regarding artworks' provenance, authenticity and pricing, thus putting an end to the issue of the art market’s lack of transparency – possibly the true cause of mistrust toward these new technologies? Based on a decentralized system with individual cryptographically linked data sets (blocks), blockchain and related cryptocurrencies are difficult to manipulate, thereby offering users a high level of security. Additionally, the amount of Bitcoins sent as part of a transaction between two anonymous parties may be traced publicly. Applied to the art market, this would mean a move towards more transparency. Blockchain technology could create global databases in order to register artworks and document provenance, price history and condition, ensuring flawless and consistent tracking. Forged pieces along with stolen and looted art would be easier to identify and could possibly be traced back to their origins. The potential of blockchain technology for the art market is enormous and is currently implemented by start-ups such as Maecenas, FRESCO and Blockchain Art Collective. This paper will present opportunities for the art market through blockchain technology and will discuss the complex relationship between transparency and opacity that is so characteristic for this market.

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Sarah Fassio (Germany) 9849
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