Synthetic DNA Tags Could End Art Forgery

Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain
Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Part of the job of an art forger is to stay one step ahead of the rest, but as imposters become ever more sophisticated, the art world is starting to beat its enemies by joining them—at least when it comes to the technology it employs.

A group comprised of artists and scientists from the State University of New York at Albany recently announced a project that aims to imprint pieces of art with synthetic DNA tags, which will help authenticate the work like never before.

The encoded markers would provide an encrypted key to a database with information about the artwork. The unique, bioengineered DNA details (not related in any way to the artist) would make verification quick, easy, and cost-effective.

It’s estimated that tags would cost about $150. Additionally, the genetic information would be embedded in the work itself to further secure the identity of the art. According to the team, such measures would not change the piece itself. The hidden signature could also help identify and deter thieves.

While the project is still in its infancy, it's expected to be in the testing phase as early as next year. And while counterfeiters will surely do their best to crack this new method of safeguarding, it’s the kind of innovation that hints at a future where art forgery might be ancient history.