New centre to yield industry-wide object identification standards and solutions

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ARIS Title Insurance Corporation, a member of Argo Group International Holdings, and the State University of New York (SUNY) at Albany, have launched an initiative that promises to revolutionize the global arts and collectables industry by developing industry-accepted identification and authenticity standards.

The University at Albany, one of the four flagship centers within SUNY, will serve as the international base for the SUNY Center of Innovation on Standards and Solutions for Object Identification Technologies in the Global Art and Collectables Industry.

The centre will bring together academic and private sector stakeholders from around the world to collaboratively establish definitive, third-party, peer-reviewed industry standards and solutions for object-identification and authentication of art and collectables.

The goal of this initiative is to create a platform on which all market stakeholders — international trade regulators, the financial services and property insurance sectors, the museum community, artist estates, foundations and living artists — can engage and protect both their legacies and the art industry as a whole through new solutions.

“This is an important initiative that tackles the issues of object identification and authenticity that are now equal in proportion to the issues of legal title in the art and collectables industry,” said ARIS Chairman Lawrence Shindell. “If together we can help this subsector of the global economy remove object-authenticity from the equation, then, combined with title insurance, we’ve tackled the two key risks that have hampered the industry. De-risking the asset class in this way will benefit all stakeholders over the long term.”

The initiative mirrors the success of other industries, most notably pharmaceutical and timber, which faced global, systemic problems of inauthentic adulterated drugs and illegally deforested timber products. The goal is to create an “open architecture” solution and develop standards that enable any number of the manifold industry stakeholders to have the confidence to invest in the innovation necessary to create and for all stakeholders to use standards-based solutions.

The centre will launch through funding and other support provided by ARIS, the authority on the subject of legal title risks impacting the global fine art and collectibles market. Its operations will be coordinated by NRS Associates, LLC, a strategic merchant banking and advisory firm based in New York City.

“Given our market-neutral role as the title insurer to the art and collectibles industry, we believe that ARIS is in a unique position to help support this initiative,” explained Shindell.

The SUNY Center of Innovation’s international activities will be led by a team of experts headed in the United States by Dr Martin Tenniswood, Empire Innovations professor, Department of Biomedical Sciences, the School of Public Heath, University at Albany and director of the GenNYsis Center in Cancer Genomics at Albany. The Center will also operate in close collaboration with Fardin Sanai, vice president for University Development, University at Albany, and executive director of The University at Albany Foundation.

“The entire SUNY system, encompassing 64 campuses, has world-class researchers, laboratories and expertise in the multiple disciplines required to make this significant initiative successful. Many of these are housed here at the University at Albany,” said Robert Jones, University at Albany president. “In addition, with our strong commitment to public-private collaborations, we can play a key role in developing large-scale, technology-based solutions to significant problems in global industries.”

With the diversity of stakeholders engaging directly or indirectly in the art industry, it is expected that parties throughout the United States and internationally will contribute to the development of these industry standards. As an independent, academic, peer-review-based facility, the SUNY Center of Innovation will be able to measure standards-compliance of developed solutions as well as facilitate their market acceptance.

“Argo Group is pleased to be a part of this important industry-wide initiative,” said Mark Watson III, Argo Group President and CEO. “This collaborative effort, which combines the leading research and scientific capabilities of the state of New York with the expertise of ARIS, the leader in asset integrity in the global art and collectibles industry, is a great example of insurance industry innovation.”

The centre will immediately begin to collaborate with stakeholders in the art industry trade, the scientific and legal communities and with other relevant experts from around the world. The centre expects to release the first iteration of standards in fifteen months and hopes to reveal soon the involvement of a leading international academic and research-based university located outside the United States that will serve as a dual collaboration location.