Vincenzo Peruggia was born on 8 October, 1881. Some thirty years later on a Monday morning in 1911, the diminutive 160-cm Italian man strapped on a white smock—to blend in with the other employees at the Louvre in Paris—and walked out carrying the Mona Lisa. He simply lifted it off the wall. For the next two years Leonardo Da Vinci’s iconic masterpiece lay stuffed in a trunk in the thief’s Paris apartment. Vincenzo eventually grew anxious and returned to Florence in his beloved homeland where he contacted an art dealer and attempted to peddle the famous painting. The police arrested him in his hotel room.
What makes this story fascinating is not that it was so shockingly easy to walk away with a world renowned Renaissance-era treasure, but that Vincenzo’s crime was doomed from the very beginning. Everyone in the art world knew the origins of the Mona Lisa, the value of the Mona Lisa and the journey of the Mona Lisa to her home in the Louvre. The painting’s entire provenance was well documented and agreed upon. Introducing the stolen masterpiece back into the art world without setting off alarms everywhere was impossible. Blockchain technology offers that same level of transparency and authenticity for everything from a Persian tapestry and a toro sushi roll to a refinanced mortgage loan, or even a single lemon. Here’s how:
Mutually Agreed Upon Single Source of Truth
The first step to documenting data on a blockchain requires operational processes that focus on first-time accuracy. From the initial step, all parties involved in a transaction must confirm the identity, value and controlling stipulations that regulate the blockchain asset. In our story featuring Vincenzo Peruggia, for instance: This is Da Vinci’s painting, the Mona Lisa. She hangs on this particular wall in the Louvre. She is worth $800 million. No, she is not for sale. The value and circumstances have been established. If anyone attempts to steal or tamper with the Mona Lisa, the involved parties—the world, in this case—will notice.
With blockchain, once the mutually agreed upon initial information is captured accurately, it becomes the single source of truth. It never needs to be verified. Once the integrity of the data related to the information asset has been established, blockchain technology prevents any nefarious actors from being able to manipulate it because everyone in the blockchain is looking at the same information, at the same time, from their respective computers, distributed throughout the world. Everyone is privy to the original confirmed and verified asset and what happens to that data moving forward. Attempting to exploit or plunder that digital asset would be like trying to steal the Mona Lisa from countless, well-protected Louvres all over the world.