A lucky graffiti artist is set to become a millionaire when Facebook goes public this spring.
In 2005, David Choe painted a series of erotic murals at the company’s first headquarters in Palo Alto and was paid in stock options – which, according to the New York Times, are now worth some $200 million.
The then president of Facebook, Sean Parker, offered him the shares as an alternative to a payment of a few thousand dollars, despite reportedly thinking the company ‘ridiculous and pointless’.
If you count the paintings as a single artwork, it becomes the most valuable in the world, comfortably seeing off a Jackson Pollock which sold for $140 million in 2006.
Choe says that some of the pictures have since been cut out from the walls and moved to other Facebook offices around the world.
It’s not quite a rags-to-riches story: Choe, who is based in Los Angeles, has been relatively successful, having produced the cover art for Jay-Z and Linkin Park’s hit 2004 music album Collision Course.
On his website, he says: “He wants to retire early, illustrate the entire Bible and paint the Great Wall of China.” The Chinese government may get in the way of the last aim, but the others now look pretty feasible.
Around a thousand Facebook employees, especially those who joined during its early days, are also set to become millionaires through the IPO. Real estate agents and local charities are rubbing their hands – as is the state of California, which will see a nice boost in tax revenues.