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What Would Warhol Think of Bitcoin?

09.16.13 Kyle Chayka

Andy Warhol once famously said, “I like money on the wall. Say you were going to buy a $200,000 painting, I think you should take that money, tie it up and hang it on the wall.” He took his own advice, after a fashion, when he painted “200 One Dollar Bills,” a canvas of screenprints of dollars. It recently sold for $43.7 million.

German artist Kuno Goda is probably hoping for a similar accomplishment with his “200 Bitcoin,” a canvas screenprinted with 200 circles emblazoned with the logo for the virtual currency, a B with two lines running through it. The work is being sold at a discount for just 199 Bitcoin. Since each Bitcoin is currently worth around $126, that would put the presumed value of the piece at $25,000 — likely much more than the price tag of Warhol’s original.

By depicting the latest monetary trend through a Pop lens, Goda also brings a lightly satirical eye to Bitcoin, which it certainly deserves. The much-hyped currency has been seesawing in value lately, and government groups are moving toward regulation of virtual currencies, making it harder to trade BTC for US dollars. Bitcoin isn’t even as anonymous as it purports to be: Forbes tried buying some drugs with the currency on the heavily encrypted Silk Road online marketplace, but their purchases were easily tracked.

So if Goda successfully sells the work, he’d better be careful about what he ends up buying with the profits, or he’ll wish he had followed in Warhol’s steps and went for cold, hard cash.