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The DNA of the Piece

The art world is considering using synthetic DNA signatures as a means of tagging genuine works of art, the New York Times reports.

The community, the Times notes, has been rocked by fakes in the market — the prestigious Knoedler Gallery in New York was found to have sold dozens of forgeries before it shut in 2011.

To combat this, the Global Center for Innovation at the State University of New York at Albany is developing synthetic pieces of DNA for artists to use to sign their work molecularly, with funding from the ARIS Title Insurance Corporation. These DNA signatures, the Times notes, would be unique to each item and not based on the artist's DNA as that would raise privacy concerns as well as be susceptible to being stolen and embedded in a faked piece. These signatures then would be able to be read by a scanner to verify the provenance of the piece.

Even if thieves tried to remove the tag, the developers say traces would remain.

"We see it as a secure, safe and invisible solution that artists and owners can accept," Lawrence Shindell, chairman of ARIS, tells the Times. "Our goal is to remove uncertainty from the market."