Bristol and London law firm Temple Bright is working with innovative certification technology business Artclear as it grows into a major force in the art world.
Coming from the world of payments and settlements of high-value financial transactions, Artclear’s founders Angus Scott and Charlotte Black identified why the art world still struggled with high transaction costs and heavy paperwork, lacking the level of security and accessibility that underpins modern financial systems.
London-headquartered Artclear uses proprietary forensic imaging technology to create a system for the reliable authentication of original works of art, involving a scanner and digital fingerprinting process.
It provides the infrastructure to address longstanding challenges throughout the art world concerning the provenance and veracity of artworks.
The technology involves the generation of “fingerprints” using forensic imaging technology developed with HP Inc, for which Artclear is the sole worldwide licensee.
These are based on microscopic images of the artwork captured with Artclear’s specially designed scanning device.
The artworks then have forensically reliable fingerprints, with less than a one in a billion chance of a false result, including for original artworks, prints and multiples and editions of photographs.
Artclear’s pioneering process had its first commercial application last year with the issue of Artclear Certificates of Authentication at a London exhibition.
The first production version of the Artclear scanner was also built and integrated with Artclear’s online platform last year, enabling artists, galleries and collectors to access Artclear services.
Live trialling has continued at galleries this year, with more than 300 works “Artcleared” so far.
Temple Bright has provided legal advice to Artclear from its inception, creating the contractual infrastructure to enable operation and guiding the business through two funding rounds.
The Temple Bright team is led by corporate partner James Vickerman, supported by partners Sam Elworthy and Dan Pearce (commercial), Sian Bussy (intellectual property), Danielle Spiers (employment) and Carol Buchanan (tax and share schemes).
Artclear co-founder and CBO Charlotte Black said: “There is a lot to think about in the early phase of any new business and we have greatly valued Temple Bright’s guiding hand.
“The six-partner team of James Vickerman, Sam Elworthy, Dan Pearce, Sian Bussy, Danielle Spiers and Carol Buchanan has met all our legal needs, with a friendly and accessible style that we find very refreshing.”
James Vickerman added: “We are delighted to be working with Artclear, a groundbreaking business with an exciting vision and the technology to bring it to life.
“It has been thrilling to see Artclear’s rapid progress over the past two years, and to have been able to play a part in that journey.
“We have supported Artclear on a range of legal infrastructure tasks including the all-important technology contract with HP, arrangements for IP protection, directors’ service contracts and a share scheme.
“I have advised on two fundraising deals which are a further important step, providing the means to realise the founders’ ambitious plans for the next stage of growth.”
Temple Bright co-founder Tim Summers said: “Advising cutting-edge technology businesses is a real privilege.
“There is no better example than our work for Artclear, who use sophisticated tech for the timely and valuable goal of increasing trust in art transactions. We look forward to Artclear’s continuing success, and being able to contribute to it.”
Temple Bright was launched in Bristol in 2010 using a tech-enabled, streamlined business model. It opened its second office in London EC2 in 2013 and now has around 70 partners spread across the two locations.
The firm advises clients ranging from start-ups to PLCs across a range of sectors, with significant expertise in technology.
This article appeared in the Bristol Business Newsletter on 20 October 2023.