July 14, 2022 – During the TEFAF art fair in Maastricht, an expert meeting was held on ‘Provenance and Compliance for Art and Collectibles’ with experts from the art and academic world, about a system with which the provenance of artworks can be recorded in a reliable manner. Co-initiator of the meeting was Provenance+, which previously conceived an art passport that has proven its worth in the pilot phase. This system enables collectors and other art owners to register their works in a safe and independent manner. https://provenance- plus.com
Provenance+ is a Dutch start-up founded by former civil-law notary Paul Kerckhoffs, former partner at a tier-one law firm, valuer and collector. Together with lawyer and art historian Joost van Asseldonk, he combines his passion for art and collecting with knowledge and experience of the notarial profession. Provenance+ strives for a worldwide standard for the registration of art. Kerckhoffs explains: “In today’s society we register everything. The pedigree of your dog is known and you know when a used car was last serviced. But there is no such registration system for art.” Provenance+ therefore developed an art passport to enable information and art object to be linked in a future-proof manner. The notary is the ultimate gatekeeper who provides art buyers and sellers with the Provenance+ tool, allowing them to operate with confidence. For many platforms and organizations such as ICOM, UNESCO and Interpol, improving the documentation of provenance has been a topic for some time. The Foundation for Safe Art Registration was also established by Kerckhoffs in this context. This foundation aims to serve as an international platform where initiatives in the area of provenance registration of art can be encouraged, promoted and critically examined.
The P+ Passport is currently in the pilot phase. Parties who own art or bring art into circulation can have their objects registered in a uniform system with a notarial deed via Provenance+. The provenance is registered and linked to the artwork by means of a digital seal. “It is comparable to the wax seal of the past, but now using an advanced holographic sticker,” explains Kerckhoffs. Trade and import/export are thus made more transparent and all information is secured for future owners. Since the launch in early 2022, hundreds of objects have already been registered. A user of the first hour is Robert Aronson, director of Aronson Antiquairs. They have had the history of several pieces of art recorded, as demonstrated at TEFAF. “In this way, the provenance of objects that have been in private hands for generations and are therefore not recorded in the literature, can be secured. In the event of a sale, the identity of the seller is protected. Provenance+ thus enables me to offer clients both additional information and confidence,” says Aronson.
A new European regulation for the import of cultural goods is due to take effect in 2025. With this in mind, MACCH (Maastricht Centre for Arts and Culture, Conservation and Heritage, an interdisciplinary institute at Maastricht University) is examining initiatives in which the existence of an object is verified by an independent person, the available provenance documents are linked to this object in a reliable manner, and the information is stored and made accessible in a secure way. Provenance+ fulfils all these requirements.
The international expert meeting offered an opportunity to exchange views on the necessity of a reliable registration system. The attending art law experts from the universities of Maastricht and Leuven, legal scholars from the Netherlands and Germany in the field of art and cultural heritage and the documentation and management of relevant research data, as well as art dealers all strongly underlined the need for a uniform and reliable system in which the provenance of art objects can be linked to the object itself and that can be consulted. The speakers emphasized that in today’s world, both legislation and the importance of proving an ethically sound origin of cultural goods play an ever greater role. Buyers and sellers should be aware of their social responsibility to provide for proper documentation. The initiators of Provenance+ continue to proactively engage in the debate in order to further refine the developed system and to create an ever-widening support base.
Interested art owners can contact Provenance+ to register their works.
To read more about Provenance+, please visit https://provenance-plus.com.
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