How AI Is Helping Art Experts Spot Forgeries
Chris’ note: We’re entering the Age of AI. And it’s about a lot more than ChatGPT and other artificial intelligence chatbots.
Yesterday, we looked at how AI systems are helping fight cancer and cure a range of other diseases. Today, our tech investing expert, Colin Tedards, shows how AI is disrupting the art world.
As you’ll see, researchers are using AI to help human art experts tell the difference between forged artworks and the real deal. And it’s resulting in radical changes to the prices artworks are fetching on the market.
In October 2009, one asset skyrocketed in value by 681,718%…
And it happened in an instant.
The asset in question isn’t a stock, an options contract, or a cryptocurrency.
It’s a painting. This painting, to be precise.
The painting known as Young Girl in Profile in Renaissance Dress, (Source: Wikimedia Commons)
Originally known as Young Girl in Profile in Renaissance Dress, it’s a portrait of a young lady wearing clothes and hairstyle that were fashionable in Milan, Italy, in the 1490s.
It sold at Christie’s in 1998 for $22,000. The auction house described it at the time as, “German school, early 19th century.”
Its current owner bought the painting in 2007 from a gallery in New York. He believed it potentially dated back to the Renaissance. So, he sought a second opinion.
Art experts reviewed the work. And they concluded he was correct. The real creator, they said, was none other than Renaissance painter and polymath Leonardo da Vinci.
The value of La Bella Principessa, as it became known, was marked up to about $150 million.
It was a dramatic turn of events. And it shows that proving the origin of a painting can mean the difference of hundreds of millions of dollars.
But proving that a painting is authentic isn’t easy. Even today, art experts hotly contest the provenance of La Bella Principessa.
Art experts often devote their entire careers to a specific artist or period. This makes the world of professional art authentication a small and exclusive club.
But researchers from the University of Bradford and the University of Nottingham in Britain are hoping artificial intelligence (“AI”) can unlock the truth behind a painting’s origins.
And they’re already making waves in the artworld…
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In 1981, art collector George Lester Winward bought the De Brécy Tondo at a country-house sale in England.
For the past 40 years, experts largely agreed that the painting was a Victorian-era copy of The Sistine Madonna by the great Renaissance painter Raphael.
The De Brécy Tondo alongside Raphael’s artwork, The Sistine Madonna (Source: University of Nottingham)
The similarities are striking. But skilled forgers go to great lengths to replicate classic works.
For instance, German art forger Wolfgang Beltracchi teamed up with his wife to forge more than 50 famous artists. He was successful for a time – making about $100 million from forged art.
The authorities only caught him because of a slip-up. He used a paint that contained titanium dioxide – a white pigment that wasn’t available until relatively recently.
Art experts have relied on chemical analysis to sniff out frauds such as Beltracchi’s. Now, they’re turning to AI to help them uncover fakes and replicas.
What’s notable about the De Brécy Tondo is it’s the first example of an AI asserting that what experts believed to be a replica is the real deal.
Using face recognition technology, the British researchers determined that the face of the Virgin Mary has a 97% similarity to Raphael’s The Sistine Madonna. And they determined the face of the baby Jesus has an 86% probability of being from the same artist.
The study, scheduled to be published later this year, considers a rating above 75% to be identical. The AI model measures more than just similarities seen with the naked eye. It analyzes the brush strokes and patterns that are consistent throughout an artist’s work.
A human art expert is limited to what they can take in visually. They also risk allowing their own biases to blur the lines between objective and subjective analysis.
AI systems doesn’t have the same failings. They can digest the totality of two images and overlay the similarities and differences at varying scales.
I don’t know if the AI is right about the painting’s provenance. Most Raphael scholars think the AI is wrong to attribute it to the Renaissance master.
But it raises many interesting questions about trust in the Age of AI…
We’re entering an era in which AI is smarter than any human expert at specific tasks.
We’ve seen how AI systems can disagree with human experts and disrupt the fine art market.
But will we trust AIs over humans in other parts of our lives?
For instance, would you trust an AI system’s diagnosis over a human doctor’s one?
Will we rely on AI to tell us what news is real or fake.
Will you feel comfortable letting an AI set the rate of interest on a new loan… or assess the value of an insurance claim?
More important, what happens when the AI disagrees with human experts in these fields?
Who will you trust – the human or the machine?
AI may offer new ideas that challenge long-standing theories of biology, physics, and chemistry. It may propose radically new ideas that at face value may seem foolish… but could be wise beyond our comprehension.
Whatever your answer, AI is more than just an investment trend.
It has the potential to radically reorganize society and upend long-held beliefs about how the world works. It could be a uncomfortable time for some people – especially the so-called experts.
The question for us: Do we fight it or embrace it?
Colin TedardsEditor, The Bleeding Edge
Chris here again… My mission is to help you profit from the rise of AI and other bleeding-edge tech trends.
And Colin isn’t the only expert here at Legacy with his eye on opportunities in artificial intelligence.
Colleague and resident crypto expert Teeka Tiwari is going live next Wednesday, August 9, at 8 p.m. ET with a revolutionary AI play you can get in on for less than a dollar.
He’s been talking about the rise of AI to his readers over at our Palm Beach Research Group advisory since 2015… And now he’s got his eye on a coin that he believes will soar as the AI boom takes off.
So, go here to automatically sign up for Teeka’s event.
And make sure to read tomorrow’s Daily Cut.
I’ll be showing you one of my favorite ways to play the AI megatrend in your portfolio.
It’s the world’s second most important AI chipmaker. And it’s selling at a steep discount to the world’s No. 1 AI chipmaker, Nvidia.Chris’ note:Experts vs. AIWho Do You Trust?Chris here again…