Combating Art Fraud

Forgeries, copies and misattributed works for centuries have plagued the business of art. Today, many investors will include fine art in their portfolios only if the work has been authenticated by internationally recognized specialists: “The art market is a high-risk industry, in which authentication is the sine qua non of merchantability. In an era of increased market capitalization and ever-growing demand for fine art -- either for the status it confers on its owners qua art or for its investment value -- authentication is the art collector’s most frequent stumbling block.” [1]

The sheer volume of art transactions, however, cannot be handled by human experts. ​According to Artprice, the global fine art auction market sold approximately 720,000 artworks in 2022 [2], including no less than 123,000 contemporary works [3]. Art professionals believe that private sales may account for at least double that number. Thus, it is likely that only a fraction of artworks is thoroughly checked for authenticity and condition. The Fine Art Expert Institute (FAEI) has warned that over 50 percent of artworks on the market likely are forgeries [4].

Artificial Intelligence 
Does Not Suffice

AI is powerful but not enough to determine whether an artwork is genuine. AI, if not complemented by several other technologies and without human supervision, carries an unacceptably high risk when it comes to art authentication: 

[1] The art market is a high-risk industry, in which authentication is the sine qua non of merchantability. Dixon, Katie and Shufro, Zachary, Risky Business: Fraud, Authenticity, and Limited Legal Protections in the High Art Market (August 24, 2020). 10 N.Y.U. J. Intell. Prop. & Ent. L. 246 (2021). SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3679660 
[2]
https://www.artprice.com/artprice-reports/the-art-market-in-2022/key-figures-for-2022  
[3]
Artprice, The 2023 Contemporary art market report. Available at: https://www.artprice.com/artprice-reports/the-contemporary-art-market-report-2023/key-figures/  
[4] ART FORGERY - More Than Half of Art is Fake? | Widewalls (October 19, 2014). https://www.widewalls.ch/magazine/more-then-half-of-art-is-fake