The Man Who Used the Blockchain to Steal the Mona Lisa

The Man Who Used the Blockchain to Steal the Mona Lisa

Terence Eden, a self-described “Digital Troublemaker”, has laid claim to the Mona Lisa – by attaching a blockchain-based certificate of authority to an image of the Leonardo Da Vinci painting lifted from … Wikipedia. 

It appears Eden undertook the prank to highlight the issue of over-hyped solutions proposed by some blockchain start-ups – in this case an outfit known as Verisart which claims that it will be able to address forgery and provenance issues through blockchain immutability. 

“Except… and I hate to bring the art industry into disrepute… what if I sell a fake and keep the original in my Underground Vault?” Eden asks. 

Whilst Eden appears to be making a valid point in this specific instance, he also seems to extrapolate from this one example to bring the entire concept of blockchain-based solutions into disrepute – at least for the logistics industry: “Sure, you can slap a QR code on a crate – but nothing stops an unscrupulous middle-man from replacing or adulterating the contents of the crate.”

However, at least one market analyst disagrees. “If we submit certification to the blockchain, we should be working from the assumption that it is the certification itself that has value – such as a government-issued property deed,” comments Ali Yazbek, a blockchain analyst and investor.

“There appears to be a valid question here about the applicability of blockchain technology being able to guarantee provenance within the art industry in this instance, but it’s going a little too far to state that the blockchain has no real use cases for the supply chain more generally.”