By Valentina Falicheva

A notable trend since Bitcoin gained its popularity has been an incredible rise in the interest in the technology behind Bitcoin known as Blockchain, which is the “thing” which allows cryptocurrencies to function. Some statistics indicate that the global blockchain market is expected to be worth $20 billion in 2024! In this article, we consider what it is that makes blockchain unique, as well as demystifying some myths around it, with a particular focus on how this technology is applicable to the art market.

What is Blockchain and why is it revolutionary?

In a nutshell, a blockchain is based on a distributed ledger technology that acts as a database on which transactions are permanently recorded. The first blockchain was created by Satoshi Nakamoto as a means to record transactions in the cyptocurrency Bitcoin. The aim behind it was to create a virtual currency which cannot be forged and is not controlled by any bank or government. One of the main benefits of blockchain technology is that it does not use a central server to store information but instead the recorded information embedded in a digital code instantly appears on a vast network of shared databases. As the information is held so widely, it means that an outsider would need to corrupt more than 51% of nodes to interfere with it. This highly secure method of recording and storing information protects it from being deleted or tampered with. Such immutable record-keeping properties of blockchain could revolutionise the art market by improving transparency, ownership and copyright issues. It is worth noting that Christie’s Art+Tech summit held on 17 July 2018 focussed on blockchain and weighed its pros and cons which in itself is an indication of the technology’s significance in the art world.