Tech Start-Up intends to get Royalties Artists for resale

Even before the famous artist Robert Rauschenberg refused to see a 1958 painting he originally sold for $ 900 flip for $ 85,000 in 1973, the artists were angry because they did not get royalty for their work when it changed hands.

Previous efforts to fix this over the years have failed. But now, as gamers and other manufacturers insist on controlling their futures market and blockchain technology has made it easier to analyze intellectual property, Stanford alumni have begun business to help filmmakers earn a cash reward when their work is secretly resold or coming for sale, in some cases at multiple rates of the original price.

“There has been a lot of progress in the secondary market, but artists are still left behind, despite their importance in it,” said Max Kendrick, one of the founders. “How can we create a lasting example for an artist in the galleries that support them?”

Charlie Jarvis, 24, a computer scientist, and Kendrick, 36, a former politician and son of artist Mel Kendrick, started the company, called Fairchain, in 2019. , he enjoys painting and painting by artists.

“If it is widely accepted, as it should be, it could be a big change,” said artist Hank Willis Thomas, the company’s consultant. “Many artists are poor and give all of their work to their artists.

“In the music industry, it is to be expected,” Thomas added. “I have ‘Law and Order’ friends who, after 20 years, are still receiving royalties. Outside of working life, we are just a kind of art with no kind of leftovers.”

Kendrick had an idea for Fairchain when a friend of the artist was forced to choose between renting a house in his studio and getting a royal job (he chose a company).

Kendrick earned a master’s degree in economics in 2019 from Stanford Business School, where he teamed up with Jarvis, who worked in a master’s in computer science after earning a bachelor’s degree there. He stopped earning his master’s degree to start Fairchain. “I was impressed by the impact of technology on the industry,” he said.

Fairchain enables artists or their galleries to create digital certificates of title and accuracy, encrypted and recorded on blockchain. When a project is sold or resold, the document is handed over to the new buyer only after they have signed a contract that transfers a percentage of the business value to the artist who created the work.

Their artists or galleries take a percentage of the royalty when the project was first sold, the artists may choose to place part of their future royalty in the gallery that first sold the project. So far, Fairchain has seen sales potential be kept between zero and 10 percent, Kendrick said. Fairchain is paid $ 10 each time the name changes.

Each of the Fairchain consultants – about 10 people involved temporarily with the company depending on their expertise – holds some type of size or product selection on the platform, which is registered according to the Public Benefit Center, Kendrick.

The company has also set up a free arm, the Fairchain Fund for Working Artists, which provides 1 per cent and 1.5 per cent of each sale in cash which provides a small emergency grant for artists in need. .

Blockchain registration allows customers to verify the identity of a permanent service, to prove its authenticity and to record business, perhaps avoiding ownership disputes. Kendrick describes it as “the digital catalog raisonné.”

“A lot of times you see art and you don’t know where it comes from,” said Paula Volent, chief investment officer at Rockefeller University and co-founder of Fairchain’s nonprofit Fund.

Artist Eric Fischl said Fairchain technology was crucial during a legal dispute that prompted artists’ lands – such as the Andy Warhol Foundation – to withdraw from research. “It will work,” he said of the project. “The biggest problem is the investigation. No foundation needs to find anything.”

Reflecting on the issue of royalties for artists, Fairchain creators have had a long-standing problem for artists: Many of them only earn money from the original sale.

“I have said for a long time that the remaining pay for artists is over,” artist Frank Stella said in a statement released by Fairchain to The New York Times. “The benefits from the appreciation of the painting come entirely to others, despite the important work of the artist who continues to develop their character and build the value of their work.”

This applies to all levels of the art market, from brand name to brand name. In 2018, for example, David Hockney’s portrait, “Portrait of an Artist (Pool With Two Figures),” went for $ 90.3 million on Christie’s; the artist originally sold it for $ 18,000 in 1972.

In the same year, when the city of Chicago decided to sell Kerry James Marshall mural in the fall – it was estimated to be worth $ 10 million and $ 15 million, where it was offered $ 10,000 in 1993 – the sale was stopped. when the artist is publicly criticized. community for undermining “anything useful they can through the fruits of my labor.”

With Fairchain, an artist’s original show can also share money from the second largest auction, even if it does not represent the artist.

Kendrick said, “Small studios are being punished for their success by starting artists and not getting any benefit for finding them,” Kendrick said.

Some artists say Fairchain will make them more comfortable for interacting with galleries. “I have a lot of friends who don’t even want to be part of the art market,” said Bronx artist Alteronce Gumby, an investor in the company. While Fairchain can introduce “many books and many languages ​​we do not know,” he added, “I think we need to understand the environmental system and the potential we have.”

Fairchain, which began operations in December, is likely to quickly become a standard operating system, given the market-based stability as well as a record of past efforts. For example, the 1977 California Resale Royalties Act, was overturned by the federal appeals court in 2018 for violating federal copyright law.

“There’s a mountain to climb here,” said salesman James Cohan. “Artists will insist – ‘if you want to buy my art, you have to do it this way.’

Nonetheless, Fairchain said it has attracted the support of prominent entrepreneurs who have also supported startups such as correspondents in Superhuman. Fairchain was recently included in ARTnews’ decision-making publication, highlighting “individuals and companies currently assisting in cultural discussions,” written by Thomas Guest.

And some experts around the world believe that the moral debate has gained more support, and that the industry will have a modern-day impact on boarding.

“It looks like a pretty good one,” said artist Carroll Dunham. “People are arguing that it will block the resale market and weaken the whole art business. But there must be a transit point.”

Considering that galleries store details of their business, Fairchain maintains the identity of the collectors and the privacy policy of others. At the same time, Fairchain believes the art market is ripe for change, as the current millennium-friendly technology is now 52 percent of high-value collectors, according to a report 2021 according to Art Basel and UBS, and the largest spenders of art. in general.

Kendrick said, “It’s a radical change in what it means to collect.

He added, “We have resolved the need to respect values.” “We do not bring transparency in the market. We make these transactions clear.”

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