A few months ago I heard rumors about an Artist living somewhere in Los Angeles who called themselves the BILLION DOLLAR ARTIST (BDA) and they claimed that they were going to make only one painting and sell it for a $1,000,000,000! While I initially laughed and thought this to be absurd, I eventually began to see the brilliance of this proposition. While it is far fetched to believe that an unknown artist of any caliber could fetch the largest sum in history for a piece of artwork, it isn’t a bad piece of self-promotion. Even if the BDA never sells his one painting, at least the world will know of their chutzpah and give them props for having such audacity.
To date, the most expensive painting in history is Leonardo’s Salvator Mundi, which sold for approximately $450,000,000. Second place goes to Interchange by Willem de Kooning, which sold for $300,000,000. What these two paintings have in common is that they are both very old, very rare, and by well-known artists. The BDA’s identity isn’t known. In fact, it has taken me about four months to track them down, and all I could find was their Instagram account. Nothing else. No emails. No location, other than somewhere in Los Angeles. Could the BDA be an artist that we all know and love? Not knowing is part of the fun.
In addition to being difficult to locate and correspond with, The BDA has stated that nobody knows who they are. Not even close friends and relatives. They immediately delete all of their Instagram messages. Also, they have told me, in our brief messages, that they will only be showing the finished painting to a select group of people, and that no photos will ever be allowed…even after the sale, if there is one. Whoever buys this amazingly expensive artwork must agree to never have it photographed, scanned, or otherwise reproduced in any way or form.
Once the BDA decides who they are going to show it to, those lucky people will be brought to a private location and their phones taken and put in lockers. They will then be blindfolded and put on a bus and taken to a second location where the painting is being displayed behind glass and heavily guarded. The honor to see the painting in the flesh will cost $1,000. Drinks and snacks will be served in an adjacent space. The artist themselves may or may not blend in as a spectator. They may be watching events unfold via footage from the many security cameras installed at the location. Each visitor will be allowed to spend a whole 10 minutes alone with the painting. 90% of all money raised by the visits, and the the eventual sale (the BDA hopes), will go toward Los Angeles’ growing homeless community for food and shelter.
I asked the BDA if they sold the painting for a billion dollars, if they were really willing to give $900,000,000 to charity, and they wrote back, “Think of all the great things I could do to help the world with the remaining $100,000,000!” I kinda wanna see this thing sell! Any buyers out there?!!