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Is AI the Future of Art?

Our Operations Director, Andy Jenkins, looks at a recent sale of a painting created by Artificial Intelligence (AI), which is causing a stir in the art world after being auctioned for hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The Portrait of Edmond De Belamy by the French art collective, Obvious, was the first AI-created artwork to be auctioned at Christie’s in New York. It was expected to raise between $7,000 and $10,000, but it surpassed all expectation and eventually sold for $432,500 (roughly £330,000).

The artwork has been a major talking point in the art world and raises questions about the insurance of AI art, such as how similar pieces will be valued compared to more traditional mediums. The team at Paris-based Obvious used an algorithm to produce the portrait, which has the appearance of a classical painting. They fed the algorithm with data of more than 15,000 portraits from the 14th to 20th centuries, which it then used to create new portraits in a similar style. The artwork is one of a series of portraits of members of the “De Belamy family” which includes Le Comte De Belamy, La Duchesse De Belamy and Madame De Belamy.

The phenomenon of AI artwork has existed for more than 50 years with British artist Harold Cohen being one of the first to make computer-generated art with his AARON programme. Other examples include Anna Ridler’s work, Myriad (Tulips), which takes thousands of photos of tulips and uses an AI programme to generate video of them blooming. Sougwen Chung works alongside a robotic arm which “learns” her drawing style and replicates it. Mario Klingemann’s Memories of Passersby I, a computer-generated artwork which projects faces onto screens, was auctioned by another prestigious auction house, Sotheby’s, for $51,012 (roughly £39,000).

You might not yet be the owner of an AI-created piece of art, but if you have any sort of valuable art collection it’s important to ensure you have the right sort of insurance in place. Specialist art insurance brokers like Russell Scanlan are experienced in creating policies to protect your art collection and knowing how to help in claim situations.

It’s also important to regularly update the appraisals of your artwork. Depending on the age and medium of the piece we’d recommend once a year to ensure you have the most up-to-date market value of your piece. Not only is this important for insurance, but is necessary for planning your estate, analysing the overall value of your collection, filing your taxes, and selling artwork.

Our Private Client team can assist in finding the most appropriate cover for your art collection – no matter how unusual!

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