Art Database for everyone: Artive
Art Recovery Group, founded by Chris Marinello three years ago, has split the firm to create a not-for-profit organisation called Artive. The Art Partners met with Ariane Moser, COO of the company, to find out more about it.
Can you tell us more about Artive?
Artive is a new non-for-profit organisation headquartered in the United States with a stated mission to protect and preserve the world’s cultural heritage through technology by recording and indexing data and consolidating the vast amount of databases out there. Artive set out to combine forces and provide a central database for professionals and the general public to make the wider art market a safer place and to preserve our cultural heritage.
What will distinguish your database from other platforms? (USP)
Artive’s database, developed in 2014, is technologically advanced, with integrated image recognition technology and over 500 fields of searchable data. We have more big technological development plans in the future. Artive will also be working on enabling public access to its records in order to better exchange and distribute data as part of Artive’s advocacy plans.
How the process works?
Anybody can register for a free account and use the database to register losses and other claims and to search the database prior to any acquisition, sale, loan or transport of an object.
Artive’s database has also been developed to identify and address current risks in the art market. This means issues such as likely fakes and forgeries or archaeological sites threatened by illegal excavation can be registered as a contingency ahead of their appearance on the market.
We all know that due diligence in the art market is a necessary part of any transaction, loan or acquisition. Users of Artive’s database may submit a search of an object of interest against our database and other external, relevant databases. Our research analysts will search against the image submitted, the description and attribution of the work. Artive will also have a closer look at the provenance provided in order to help manage potential risks and red flags and can direct the client to a network of specialist researchers. After completing this process, Artive will issue a report detailing the results of the search.
We wanted to discuss how complicated mediation, legislation, when government try to protect cultural property. How would you react? What is your opinion?
The function of the mediator is to bring everyone to a round table and look at the situation and assess possible solutions and compromises, in line with legal, ethical and moral grounds. It doesn’t make a huge difference if a government happens to be one of the parties sitting at the round table. In my experience, certain processes might take longer, since governmental institutions are so big and have a stringent administration and organisational processes in place. I can see how this can be frustrating at times when decisions have to be made within a short time frame for instance.
Example: The most recent case I can think of to illustrate this was one of Art Recovery International’s recoveries. It was the case of a Matisse belonging to the collection and heirs of French dealer Paul Rosenberg. Two governmental institutions, private individuals and their legal representatives were involved. It all had a happy ending, but the process of restitution was delicate and challenging. A restitution case of Nazi looted art should always be unconditional – which can be another challenging ground to stand, especially in the context of country-specific legislations on that matter and the different regulations surrounding good faith purchases. But having governmental bodies involved at the table can also be a hidden, positive aspect. The international media covered this case extensively, which ultimately led to another wave of raising awareness about this topic and the discussions surrounding stolen and looted art in the art market.
What can we take in consideration in the world of contemporary art to prevent art crimes and forgeries to be happening in the future?
Well, as with all transactions in the market, one should always exercise due diligence. Asking the right questions, a sufficient amount of questions, being curious about the work’s ownership history and travels over time etc. Document all steps and findings on your way.
So if you’re contemporary Russian artist, to prevent fakes coming into circulation or being even created, archive your work and document your work, register your authorship with different organisations and agencies. The good thing about contemporary artists is that they are still alive and can be here to authenticate their own work. In terms of forgeries, ask the same questions about its provenance as you would for any other work of art. You could also consult specialist databases dedicated to fakes and forgeries. I know of a“Database of critical works”, although I think only members of the trade have access to this resource at the moment. You can of course also use services offered by companies like Art, Analysis and Research to help determine the attribution and authenticity of a work of art.
I was thinking of an analogy to due diligence for an article I’m writing on the importance of due diligence in the art market and as I stopped at a red light I looked, for the first time, at what it actually said on the pedestrian box. Red – wait; Green – cross with care! And I thought this would be a good analogy to due diligence! You consider buying or selling a work? Wait and check. Look left and right and listen. Once you’ve done everything that your time, efforts and finances permit, cross. But cross with care, there are no guarantees, but at least you were responsible for crossing in a safer scenario than you would have if you would have crossed the red light!