The advent of crypto-currencies and the ledger systems associated with them are shaking up not just banking but also areas such as art finance.
Willstone Management, a London-based art investment company, and Willstone Capital, its art finance division, which lends against art guarantees placed with major auction houses, has taken the crypto-currency plunge by receiving payments in Bitcoin for major transactions.
The firm using Blockchain, the Bitcoin wallet start-up financed by venture capital firm Lakestar and GV, Google’s investment arm, to receive payments from investors. (While blockchain is the generic term for distributed ledger technology, Blockchain is also the name of a company which provides digital wallets for receiving Bitcoin payments through its Blockchain Receive Payments API V2.)
Willstone will also use third-party provider BitReserve to hold its Bitcoin at a stable rate and to lock in its value. BitReserve publishes proof of solvency in real time on its website.
“I have seen reference to some galleries being prepared to receive payments in Bitcoin, but I am not aware of any major art investment business that does this. Certainly the major auction houses have thus far refused to accept payments in Bitcoin. I believe we shall be the first in the field to offer such a facility in the normal course of business. I am convinced Bitcoin is here to stay, whatever the volatility issues, regulatory clampdowns or speculation about a crash in its price,” founder and CEO of Willstone, Olyvia Kwok, said.
The advent of crypto-currencies and the ledger systems associated with them are shaking up not just banking but also areas such as art finance. For example, as reported in May last year, art investors, collectors and owners were able l;ast year to trade shares in fine art through a new platform powered by blockchain technology. Maecenas says it is looking to shake up the $56 billion industry with its new platform that matches art owners with investors, while the blockchain technology underpinning transactions will create a fairer and more open market, reduce costs and increase transparency.
Willstone Management was founded in Miami, Florida, and began offering investment portfolios to American and Latin American clients in 2009. It launched in the UK in 2013. In July 2015 Willstone Management adopted a more China-focused strategy of arranging private sales of Impressionist and Modern art to ultra-high-net-worth individuals, family offices and museums.
Kwok is a familiar figure in the art investment world: she founded the gallery Olyvia Oriental in 2005, in Ryder Street, St. James’s, specializing in Chinese contemporary art.