Debate over the role of technology in the art market has exploded in 2018. Portion, an auction house that accepts only cryptocurrency, was launched in September. Before that there was the emergence of Codex Protocol, a new registry for fine art, wine and collectibles based on blockchain technology. Even the 252-year-old auction house Christie’s has got in on the act. At its inaugural “Art and Tech” summit this summer, it explored questions that had more to do with new technologies than Old Masters. “What is blockchain, really?” was the title of one event. Will artificial intelligence (AI) one day be able to appraise art and antiques? This was another question posed by art valuation website Mearto to its clients in a survey in March. Fifty-five percent of respondents thought the answer was “probably” or “definitely” yes. Art valuation is based on many factors. Mearto listed 10, from artist and subject to provenance, condition and, finally, the market. “You may be in possession of a b...

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