Can "My Things" Prevent Art Theft?

A new internet service called MyThings.com has just launched in the US, while it has been running in the UK since last December. It is a clever concept, and as I understand it, it has a number of uses:

  • It allows people to track their belongings
  • People can have some of their belongings valued
  • It can help police track down stolen items
  • It can add items to a portfolio at the point of sale via agreements with retailers
  • People can show off what they own

The website is in the initial stages, but it does seem to market itself to art and antiquities owners. People can choose to display what they own to the whole internet, or keep them private. The concept is clever, but makes me a bit uncomfortable, because it seems much of this information must surely be tracking the buying habits of consumers, and the website does not seem up front about this (at least from my cursory exploration). I wonder what kind of an impact this site or others like it will have on the cultural property trade. It’s biggest impact may be insuring people have photos of their art for insurance valuation, and it may help police track down the objects, but it is still no substitute for a licit and honorable market which is based on solid provenance.

Questions or Comments? Email me at derek.fincham@gmail.com

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