Posted: September 4, 2018 -
Interview with Nanne Dekking, co-founder and CEO of Artory
Netherland’s born entrepreneur, Nanne Dekking is the co-founder and CEO of Artory, a platform built to improve the transparency in the art marketplace, based in New York and Berlin. The platform was founded by Dekking alongside Hasso Plattner, who is the founder of SAP and an internationally renowned art collector. Dekking was announced as the Chairman of TEFAF, (The European Fine Art Foundation) succeeding Willem van Roijen in 2017. He has previously held positions at Sotheby’s in New York, including Vice Chairman and the Worldwide Head of Private Sales and art dealers Wildenstein & Co.
Hello Nanne, we have very much been looking forward to meeting you.
Artory is a fairly new platform, founded in 2016. Please give us some background on the company and what its mission is.
Artory is a secure, digital registry of verified information about artworks and their history—a trusted, neutral resource bringing a new level of confidence to the art market. The Artory registry uses the blockchain to secure the data and is built to the same security standards as the banking industry.
Artory has previously been called “mysterious” to which you responded in a 2017 interview “why create a lot of noise if you’re not there yet?” What specifically were you referring to and has it been completed yet?
What I meant was that we primarily wanted to build our secure systems in discreet conversations with the most respected market players that already have due diligence practices in place. In general, I am not an advocate of making a lot of noise. There are too many initiatives out there promising to bring transparency to the art market and they are basically trying to become a new marketplace. Rather than spending money on marketing we actually spent it on building a product that is now completely operational.
Artory is offering a technological solution that will help insulate the traditional marketplace from disruptive threats and provide a platform for future growth. The Artory registry offers market leaders the opportunity to move towards self-regulation—a far preferable solution to the realistic prospect of being bound by restrictive government rules.
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Do you think that there is an element whereby making the artworld more transparent we will end up taking away its value and allure?
I firmly believe that the contrary will happen, the art market has not grown in ten years. Many new buyers find the milieu of the art world alienating, the overload of unreliable information on the web confusing, and believe that modern technologies should be embraced to improve their customer experiences. They want to buy with absolute confidence, or not buy at all. The vast majority want standardized certificates of authenticity, and over half of buyers want better provenance information to support a purchase. Most potential buyers want the same reassurance that they expect when they buy other valuable goods—such as, a new car or a house—they want to make sure they are making a smart decision. Better prepared, more skeptical, and more risk averse than their predecessors, art buyers’ wants and needs are changing
Are there any future plans or collaborations that you can tell us about in the pipeline for Artory?
Announcements are imminent, hate to be perceived as “mysterious” again.
2% of millennials are buying art at the moment, but the number is believed to be increasing. How do you hope to create an artworld where more millennials are able to purchase art?
With two thirds of collectors worried about buying fakes, the lack of trust in the art market is self-evident. There is broad consensus within the art world that the lack of regulation and transparency in the market is not only giving current buyers pause for thought, it is scaring off huge tranches of potential customers—especially below the $50,000 mark where most first-time buyers enter the market. Everyone agrees that self-regulation is preferable to having the market wrapped up in government red tape—a very real possibility.
However, the fundamental driving force behind these trends must still be tackled head on: the lack of trust in the market. Trust is what the new generation of buyers are demanding; trust is the underlying promise of many disruptive new entrants; and trust is the key to unlocking the market’s true growth potential.
The problem isn’t that people don’t love art; it’s that they don’t feel confident enough to buy it. Through the registry, Artory brings about a step change in confidence to the benefit of buyers, sellers, and artists alike.
READ MORE: HOW MILLENNIALS ARE CHANGING THE ART WORLD
Congratulations on being appointed as the Chairman of TEFAF, what is your vision for the organisation, as well as its fairs?
I was asked to become the Chairman as I am an advocate for change of the art market. My firm belief that trust is the key to unlocking the market’s true growth potential is very applicable to TEFAF as well. TEFAF is already the fair with the most stringent vetting procedures in the world, but even at that level we can do better by making the vetting teams as independent from the marketplace as possible. By being a transparent organization, clearly indicating and sharing how we select our dealership community, and by setting the highest vetting standards we can achieve, we will ensure that art lovers can buy with confidence at TEFAF.
You have said that transparency will shift fairs into the 21st century, how will this happen and what do you say to those who feel that art fairs are becoming more of an attraction than a business?
The beauty of an art fair is that it is actually the kind of attraction that none of the individual participants can replicate, making it similar to the large viewing events at Christie’s and Sotheby’s. The moment you manage to combine a big, festive art event with a great buyer experience, you have a good business model.
Do you think there will ever come a time when art fairs will be completely transparent with exhibitors providing full sales information?
Absolutely and that moment will come much faster than most dealers expect.
You spoke at the Christie’s Art + Tech summit earlier this month on the topic of Blockchain in the art world. Was there anything you took away from the event, or any valid issues it shed light on?
It was the most relevant event that has taken place since the transparency bubble began some five years ago. It clearly showed that the big market players, such as Christie’s, understand that some of the new blockchain driven initiatives are more focused on the technologies than on what can actually be achieved with these new technologies, and what kind of strict protocols one needs to keep information related to artworks useful and credible.
Cover photo credit: Bodine Koopmans