Solomiya Trylovska/123RF

12 Startups Using Blockchain to Transform the Art Industry [Market Map]

  • 25 December 2018
  • Sam Mire

The art industry has generally been ruled by wealthy people unconcerned with digital evolution. How will they handle the blockchain disruption that’s poised to change the art world’s status quo?

Blockchain-enabled immutable ledgers can be applied to a particular work of art to track its journey from artists to owners. The technology also provides a new currency for exchange, making it an exciting innovative tool for the art world.

These companies are leveraging the blockchain to create new business channels and make the fine art world more accessible to a broader fan base. Read on to find out what the future holds for blockchain and art.

Blockchain in art market map


Blockchain market map - Art - Provenance and certification

The art world has had lots of issues with fraud and proving chains of custody. This makes art buyers skeptical and increases the need for professional verification, which often drives prices up for everyone involved in a sale. As a result, the industry needs improved, transparent provenance solutions, and the blockchain is perfectly positioned to help. These companies are using blockchain technology to enable new levels of transparency on an artwork’s history, as well as irrefutable proof of ownership. 


FRESCO is a Swiss “trust distribution platform” for artists, dealers, and art organizations. Their trust token distribution mechanism is called the FRESCO Protocol, and it lets users assign FRES tokens to each artwork, representing the potential value of the work assigned anonymously by the owner and the community. The platform’s communal aspect is enabled by FRES Cash, which lets members of the community assign their own assets to other works. In doing so, they lend credibility to a work’s value beyond the owner appraisal.

Founded: Oct 14, 2017

Funding type: ICO


The Artory registry tracks provenance for art and other collectibles using a blockchain ledger to make sure that custody chains are authentic and tamper-proof. The registry provides security and anonymity for buyers and collectors. It simultaneously assures prospective buyers that they have all the accurate information they need before making a purchase decision.

Founded: 2016

Funding type: Private / Venture-backed


Verisart is a blockchain platform that helps users create secure digital certificates for art and collectibles. Using the blockchain, they can bind these works to detailed provenance records. They aim to create more tamper-proof certificates of authenticity and ownership to reduce fraud and protect legitimate art exchanges.

Founded: Jun 1, 2015

Funding type: Private

Blockchain Art CollectiveBlockchain Art Collective

Blockchain Art Collective is a growing movement of artists using the blockchain to verify a work of art’s origin, authenticity, and journey. They do this by creating certificates of authenticity using blockchain technology, and make that data available to all relevant parties. Their goal is to give art a “digital life,” and they hope to improve the market for artists and art buyers alike.

Founded: January 2018

Funding type: Private/Venture


Blockchain market map - Art - Decentralized marketplaces

The fine art world is heavily dominated by auction houses and galleries that inflate prices and keep a large percentage it for themselves. In other cases, they control who can purchase a work of art. These issues have led to a growing number of blockchain aficionados rolling out art-driven applications to restore artists’ rights and remove middlemen from art sales. These companies are building practical blockchain solutions to help people exchange art more freely. 

ink-labsInk Labs Foundation

The Singapore-based Ink Labs Foundation uses blockchain technology to ensure that artists have access to quicker intellectual property protection, and barrier-free communication with potential customers, which is often lacking in the street and non-auction house art communities. Their Credible Sovereign Consortium Chain is a basic blockchain network for the art industry, while their Cultural Assets Trading Platform is responsible for the exchange of IP information, as well as work done by professional artwork and talent scouts.

Founded: Nov 1, 2017

Funding type: ICO

yairYAIR — Your Art is Reality

Berlin-based YAIR — Your Art is Reality — is creating a marketplace of digital works secured by the blockchain. By tokenizing each artwork and limiting the token supply, the works maintain a scarcity that increases their value behind the subjective magnetism and appeal of the works themselves. As the YAIR team says, “The art is the token. The token is the product. The product is the art.”

Founded: Sept 16, 2016

Funding type: Private / Venture Backed


Brooklyn-based DADA is a social network for art enthusiasts to connect with each other. Artists who use DADA are encouraged to collaborate with others in bringing a creation to life, and when the work becomes reality, the platform serves as a blockchain-powered marketplace where artists can sell their works using smart contracts. Collectors receive proof of ownership for the work upon purchase.

Founded: Apr 4, 2012

Funding type: Private / Venture-backed

adappcityAdappcity, Inc.

Adappcity is a decentralized application (dApp) development company. Their aim is to “identify and develop blockchain solutions that are socially and economically valuable.” Their first project is called UppstArt, and it’s touted as the first decentralized marketplace for physical artwork to be built upon blockchain technology. A portion of each sale is directly transferred to the artist — many see a model like UppstArt as the future of art sales.

Founded: Dec 11, 2017

Funding type: Private / Venture-backed


Maecenas is a decentralized platform for the artwork auction and exchange. They offer several solutions to art markets. One one of the most notable is their fundraising model, which helps galleries and auction houses crowdsource money for new art acquisitions. They also tokenize valuable paintings to let investors purchase shares in them.

Founded: 2016

Funding type: Private / Venture-backed

scarabScarab Experiment

Scarab is a decentralized art project that creates a work of art using an algorithmic imaging process for every 1,000 artworks submitted.

It’s a test of community-driven blockchain projects, using art as a medium to demonstrate the blockchain’s potential to unite people around a common goal.

Founded: Dec 11, 2014

Funding type: Crowdfunding


Portion aims to create an ecosystem that replaces traditional auction house models, with a more decentralized approach that relies on blockchain-powered provenance and cryptocurrency payments. Their aim is to bridge the gaps between art, luxury goods, and crypto.

Founded: Nov 10, 2016

Funding type: Venture


According to the founders, a Plantoid is the “plant equivalent of an android; it is a robot or synthetic organism designed to look, act, and grow like a plant.” Plantoids are physical sculptures whose existences are sustained through cryptocurrency donations. They are an appealing application of blockchain-powered crowdfunding for public works of art.

Founded: 2016

Funding type: Crowdfunding


Want more blockchain in art content?

Read: Blockchain for Art: 9 Possible Use Cases

About Sam Mire

Sam is a Market Research Analyst at Disruptor Daily. He's a trained journalist with experience in the field of disruptive technology. He’s versed in the impact that blockchain technology is having on industries of today, from healthcare to cannabis. He’s written extensively on the individuals and companies shaping the future of tech, working directly with many of them to advance their vision. Sam is known for writing work that brings value to industry professionals and the generally curious – as well as an occasional smile to the face.