Andrea Danese has worked in the art and financial services industries for more than two decades. After spending 16 years in the financial services industry working for JP Morgan and Bloomberg LP, in 2014 he launched Athena Art Finance Corp, a specialised art lender that was acquired by YieldStreet in 2019.
Shortly after the merger, Danese left Athena and co-founded Artem Advisors LLC. “I like the challenge of building companies, so when Athena was sold to YieldStreet, it was the perfect opportunity to refocus and do something new,” said Danese.
Soon after co-founding Artem, Danese met with the team at Artory, a company on a mission to harness the benefits of blockchain for the global art market. With his passion for fintech and years of art market experience, Danese knew that Artory was a natural fit for him, and he now serves as a senior advisor to the team.
Here’s how Danese answered six questions about Artory from Private Art Investor:
Private Art Investor: Is it realistic one day to get all artworks in the world onto a registry such as Artory?
Andrea Danese: It would be ideal to have every single artwork registered on the platform, but that is not a requirement for it to be successful. Artory is about securing and tracking information about an artwork, which creates an incentive for people to register their artworks or – in the case of a dealer – their entire inventory.
However, there will be people who may never register their artwork because they might never intend to sell or are resistant to new technologies.
PAI: What happens if artworks don’t have key documents?
AD: If someone comes in with a Basquiat painting, for example, and they have no proper evidence of details or provenance, they might still have an alternative way to prove ownership. It’s up to the third-party partner, in this case, to decide what’s an appropriate proof of ownership.
If our partner has any doubts concerning ownership and authenticity, the work will not be registered onto the blockchain.
For the future, we are encouraging artists to register their artworks with Artory almost immediately after they have been completed. This will enable future owners to trace the work directly back to the artist’s studio, demonstrating a complete chain of ownership on the blockchain.
PAI: What typically happens when a work registered by a collector turns out to be a fake?
AD: In the unlikely scenario that a forgery slips past one of our partners, it will appear on Artory’s public platform, opening it up for dispute. If the owner of the real piece then attempts to register their artwork and they see that someone else is claiming ownership, they can challenge that claim. The appraisers will then compare the two and determine which one is the genuine article.
Additionally, if a collector or a museum attempts to register a painting that is already in dispute, due to legal action or because it has been flagged by a company like The Art Loss Register, Artory will prevent the registration from going through until the dispute has been resolved. So far none of our registrations have had any issue.
PAI: Who are Artory’s biggest competitors?
AD: There are companies that are focusing on the collection management aspect of the Artory Registry, but there is no-one out there trying to bring the same degree of utility to the market. I don’t think there is a true competitor in the strict sense of the word.
PAI: How long for blockchain and art tech to fully be integrated into the industry?
AD: As it stands today, there are no legal requirements to register an artwork. It is simply an agreement with your service provider. However, more regulatory frameworks are requiring some form of registration: Know Your Customer (KYC) and the Fifth Anti-Money Laundering Directive (5AMLD) in Europe and the UK are two examples that immediately come to mind.
Unfortunately, there is a problem with adoption of new systems within the art market and this is probably the biggest challenge we face. It is always an uphill battle to try to change the way any market operates or behaves. Adoption has begun in a small way, but the integration of blockchain is probably going to need a few years to become the industry standard.
PAI: What’s next for Artory?
AD: We’re working on a system where collectors and our partners can monitor – via a third-party provider – all the necessary KYC and AML requirements when they register their artwork on Artory. It will also become standard practice for collectors to register their artworks if they want to have access to credit or insurance with independent financial institutions.
Our goals are to bring more transparency to the market, draw in new collectors and to act as a secure and well-built utility for the art world. By allowing for easier participation in the market, we’re expanding the reach of the art market and I believe that’s why Artory will succeed.
To read more about Artory’s movements in the art world: