Recording and Protecting the Details of an Artwork

Recording and Protecting the Details of an Artwork

database.gifIf you think about it, the physicality of an artwork is worth considerably less without all the associations that usually accompany an artwork such as:

-the provenance (association with owners, places where the artwork has been exhibited and sold etc.)
-the association with the artist that created the work
-the association with a particular period
-the association with a particular group
-the association with a particular movement

This information is invaluable when it comes to investing in art because it essentially determines the value of an artwork and therefore should be recorded and protected. Even if you do not purchase artworks for investment purposes you should still obtain and retain these details for the purposes of valuation for insurance should an artwork you own be destroyed, damaged or stolen.

A couple of years ago I attended an auction of lower priced artworks at a well known auction house when a particularly lovely late nineteenth century landscape caught my eye. The catalogue listed the artwork as being by an unknown artist but I was sure that I recognised the style and composition so I thoroughly inspected the artwork and was able to identify a very faint signature which had been almost completely covered by layers of dust and dirt. Because the owner of the artwork did not know the history of the artwork and could not be bothered researching the history I was able to purchase a very valuable artwork for only $100.

Having a few details scribbled on a piece of paper which is attached to the back of an artwork is not the safest or most functional way of recording the details of an artwork so you should consider registering the details of artworks that you own with one of the companies that offer online databases that cater specifically to artworks, such as:

Fine Art Registry
Fine Art Registry which is an online permanent art registry where any art object can be registered, ownership transfer can be recorded, theft or loss can be noted and other important functions with regard to ownership and provenance of art objects can be safely kept in an online, publicly accessible worldwide database.

Fine Arts Title Registry
National Fine Arts Title Registry offers secure, online documentation for original works of art of any value or origin — and for numbered fine art prints, giclee prints, etc. Each original work or fine art print receives an ID number to track ownership and value. Title certificates print for display, inventory records, insurance schedules, and attachment to the back of paintings to deter art theft.

IdenteArt offer a service that involves the use of a sticker to link an artwork with a database that contains the details of the artwork. The IdenteArt System label enhances the certificate of authenticity by adding a cutting edge technology presence which is physically attached to the work of art and can not be removed. If certificates of authenticity are ever lost, it will make the job for the accredited member (gallery or dealer) much easier to replace quickly particularly if you have recorded your personal details into the IdenteArt Database. DataDotDNA are microdots approximately the size of a grain of sand that are uniquely encrypted with multiple lines of their own code which would relate to the gallery name, art centre or artist that can be read with a simple microscope. These dots are incorporated into a sticker which is placed on the artwork and is tamper evident.

Nick**Nicholas Forrest is an art market analyst, art critic and journalist based in Sydney, Australia. He is the founder of, writes the art column for the magazine Antiques and Collectibles for Pleasure and Profit and contributes to many other publications.

7 Responses

  1. […] Recording and Protecting the Details of an Artwork […]

  2. […] the full story here Author Alfonso Smith Comments […]

  3. We found this blog to very interesting.
    Is there a Folk Registry.

  4. Hi Robert,

    I do not know of any folk art registries but this might be something you could look into. I am sure that it would be both a great historical and investment reference.

    Nicholas Forrest

  5. Microdots are a great way of marking art. I found a lot more information on these microdots through this information site.

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