Entrepreneur and artist Stephan Vogler wants to change the art world, and he is using Bitcoin to do just that in what’s considered by many to be the epicenter of contemporary art, Berlin, Germany.
Vogler’s novel block chain technology inspired license seeks to change how art is purchased and traded. By creating a system of rights to copyrighted works in digital form, Bitcoin can turn art from mere collector’s pieces to limited and tradable virtual goods.
Artists have long attempted to make their artwork scarce by creating limited editions of their pieces, as well as numbering the pieces. Digital artists have tried this as well, thereby undermining the digital nature of their artwork.
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Vogler has teamed up with the law firm of dtb Rechtsanwälte in Berlin to create a license using the Bitcoin technology to transform digital artworks into technically and legally limited and tradable virtual properties.
The holder of the user-rights are recorded in the Bitcoin-Blockchain, and the rights to a work are assigned with a Bitcoin transaction output.
“For the first time, digital art becomes collectable and tradable without printing or materializing it.” explains Vogler.
“In this way digital artworks are turned into virtual properties which are superior to material artworks in many respects: Their acquisition comes with more usage rights and their ownership can be easily proven. Furthermore they can be securely transferred worldwide with minimal transaction costs and – if paid with Bitcoins – securely sold without the need for an escrow service.”
The right to transfer the rights of the art-piece itself is exclusive, meaning the virtual property is technically and legally limited to a single user. Vogler publishes his works under the licenses, which he has electronically signed, and can be viewed here.
Art aficionados have made Berlin, home to 440 galleries and world-class collections of some 10,000 international artists, a hot spot on the global artistic circuit.
Known for its youthful energy, restlessness, innovation and grit, post-Berlin Wall Berlin has been a hotspot for emerging international artists, and thus a logical location for Vogler’s project.
The art market itself has been booming. Last year’s sales were a record $66bn, a 7 percent increase compared to the previous year. Two months ago an oil painting by French Post-Impressionist artist Paul Gauguin sold for nearly $300m, the highest price ever paid for a piece of art.
Could Vogler’s idea revolutionize how luxury art is owned? Perhaps more importantly, could it help even out the playing field for those on the more realistic end of the art market? Only time will tell. Already, however, Bitcoin has made inroads into the art market, with high-end pieces being sold in Bitcoin.