Insurer to establish global framework for art authenticity

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An 18-month project aimed at establishing a framework for implementing technologies intended to address the issue of authenticity of works of fine art and other objects in the global art market has been launched by ARIS Title Insurance Corporation, a member of the Argo Group.

The project will work through US and international standards organizations and will draw on the expertise of leading academic and scientific experts. The insurer said the project will help eliminate the question of authenticity from the art industry.

“A significant number of firms are developing various technologies to address the issue of authenticity in the art industry,” said ARIS chairman Lawrence Shindell. “Given the broad range of media in which works are created and the environmental exposures of art and important collectibles on a global basis, no one technology can address the entire industry need.

“Most critical to creating an effective authenticity solution is the establishment of standards against which the efficacy of both current and future authentication marking technologies can be measured. ARIS, as the world’s leading art title insurer, is in a unique position to assist the market in delivering these solutions because clear legal title is the keystone to all other activity around this asset class.”

He added that advancements in technology – from botanical DNA-based marking technologies to nano-technologies – can now be used to mark or identify a new work of art or an existing work whose authenticity has already been established by conventional standards.

“This will eventually eliminate the question of authenticity from the art industry as well as the frictional costs that this issue creates,” he said. “However, the existence of independently established, authoritative standards that will govern the indelibility, permanency, non-alterability, implementation protocols and other complex issues are necessary to anchor the legal-scientific efficacy of each technology. Otherwise, an overall market solution will not be possible.”

ARIS is already working with the world-leading Authentication in Art Foundation established at The Hague, which will convene a Congress in May 2014 to address conventional authentication standards for never-before marked or identified works.

“Once appropriate third-party efficacy standards for prospectively-applied marking or identification technologies are established, we will actively work with and support each technology that meets those standards. We expect to structure our keystone art title insurance to incorporate these identification solutions at no added cost to the market,” said Shindell.