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Using DNA Signatures to Prevent Art Forgery

September 8, 2016 | Written by Dan Margolis

Among activities that law enforcement in Ohio consider illegal, forgery of art can lead to significant penalties when a person is convicted. However, some people believe that a new authentication system might make it harder for people to recreate and sell other artists’ work.

According to The New York Times, the art market has an annual worth of $55 billion, and the pieces have no reliable method for identification. One common procedure is to have an art piece examined by an expert, curator or even a foundation for art, but these people and entities are afraid of being sued if they were to incorrectly authenticate a piece.

However, the Global Center for Innovation, located at the State University of New York, is working on a method in which artists could sign works using synthetic DNA. For it to work, it requires not just approval and adoption from the art community, but it must also be difficult to tamper with and locate. If this becomes a standard procedure, it would provide an objective authenticity tool and prevent others from replicating the work for monetary purposes.

According to the American Bar Association Journal, this tool does come at a price, however. It is expected to cost artists around $150 upon release on the market. However, it does avoid the issue of multiple experts disagreeing on the authenticity of a potential forgery.

Synthetic DNA provides additional security than if the mark were to contain the artist’s DNA. It might be possible to create an “authentic” forgery if someone were to obtain the DNA from the artist, especially if the DNA was on multiple pieces of work. Using the artist’s DNA also would violate his or her privacy. With this new security measure, each piece would have its own unique signature that is easily checked prior to any transaction. As additional security, the synthetic DNA would be actually embedded in the piece in order to make it difficult to remove.

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