Tackling counterfeit art: protecting Indigenous culture from fakes

Partnering to authenticate cultural expression with Indigenous-developed technology.

The project

  • The trade in fake Australian Indigenous art and design is estimated at a staggering $200 million a year.
  • Existing solutions have tended to focus narrowly on markings, labels or digital platforms alone.
  • The full strength of the APAC Provenance consortium – with its cohort of next-generation Australian technology leaders – was brought together to protect Indigenous artworks.
  • This collaboration via IndigiLedger (supported by APAC Provenance blockchain technology partner VeChain) was the first to combine distributed ledger technology (DLT) with secure on-product marking by Laava and Gravitas Media.
  • Globally renowned Indigenous artists were central to the project, including Chern’ee Sutton and Uncle Richard Bell.
  • IndigiLedger has been generously supported by Queensland University of Technology.


The trade in counterfeit Indigenous art is worth $200 million a year. Copies of goods being passed off as Indigenous can be found on everything from souvenirs and prints to look-alikes of expensive original artworks.

The financial damage – as well as the reputational, personal and cultural damage – that comes with this counterfeit activity is devastating:

“It’s heartbreaking when you see your artwork that you’ve worked so hard on and put your heart and soul into being ripped off.”

Chern’ee Sutton, Aboriginal artist and Kalkadoon woman

Laava is committed to providing real-world solutions to counterfeiting and connecting consumers with creators, by collaborating with leaders like IndigiLedger and our APAC Provenance partners.

This connects new technologies with the world’s oldest living culture. People want to know that the art and design products they buy are authentic and this technology gives them that confidence.

IndigiLedger Founder, Adam Robinson


  • Laava Smart Fingerprints® appear on the packages of authorised jigsaw puzzles showcasing Chern’ee Sutton’s distinctive artwork. The puzzles retail both domestically and internationally, offering consumers the opportunity to scan the Fingerprint to see proof of the product’s authenticity. They’re also connected with the artist’s story, and offered the opportunity to connect at a deeper level.
  • Chern’ee is able to track and trace product distribution across global supply chains in real time for market development and export potential.
  • Launched during NAIDOC Week, the project was reported on ABC Radio, 7 News Brisbane and regional publications.
  • IndigiLedger is actively seeking further investment to broaden the scope of the project and expand the platform.
  • Laava was privileged to partner with IndigiLedger and our APAC Provenance partners to secure and protect Indigenous Australian art, to benefit both the artists and consumers, as well as tell the priceless stories of our First Nations peoples.


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