In a recent auction designed to sell to the lowest bidder, artist “Cryptograffiti” sold his elegant work Black Swan, a collage made from a single dollar bill, for $0.000000037, making it the least expensive artwork ever sold at auction. To understand why, we recently spoke with the artist.
Like Banksy and Shepard Fairey, Cryptograffiti’s origin story begins with street art, only his has a uniquely Silicon-Valley twist. Around 2011, Cryptograffiti left a job at Apple to launch a startup inspired by a Myspace feature called “Top Eight.” His startup’s product allowed you to share your favorite photos in a tangible piece of hardware:
The “Top Eight” was really fascinating to me because this was back when social networks were really picking up steam. The psychology behind why that was such a popular feature was really interesting. I thought that if I could make a product that encapsulated that, then the product would also be popular… kind of a modern take on lockets. You can wear a photo, and then there was an app so you can also tell people which photo you were wearing and why.