Facebook IPO Turns Graffiti Artist David Choe Into Multi-Millionaire

Feb 2, 2012 3:18pm

 

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Ramin Talaie/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The decision seven years ago by a Korean-American muralist and graffiti artist to turn down thousands of dollars in cash for his work painting murals on the walls of Facebook’s first office in Palo Alto, Calif., has made him a very, very, rich man.

The artist, 35-year-old David Choe, gambled and instead took an equal value of shares of Facebook’s stock.

The social network, in one of the world’s most widely anticipated IPOs, or initial public offerings of stock, filed papers Wednesday to raise at least $5 billion.

As a result, Choe’s shares could be worth upward of $200 million when Facebook stock trades publicly later this year, the New York Times reported.

The story of Facebook was yet to be told back in 2005 when Choe was invited by the social network’s then-president, Sean Parker, to decorate the new corporate headquarters with his signature murals.

Choe, who now lives in Los Angeles, said he thought at the time that the idea of Facebook, famously founded in 2004 by Mark Zuckerberg in his Harvard University dorm room, was “ridiculous and pointless,” according to the Times.

Still, he accepted the job, and the stock.

Today, Facebook has more than 800 million active users who, Zuckerberg said, have made more than 100 billion connections with each other.  In 2011, the site had profits of $1 billion on sales of $3.7 billion.

The Times calculated Choe’s estimated stock fallout based on the word of a former Facebook employee who said “advisers” to the company at that time, such as Choe, would have received about 0.1 to 0.25 percent of the company.  That stake would be worth hundreds of millions of dollars, based on a market value of $100 billion.

While Facebook became a success, so did Choe, who has declined interview requests since the filing.

His work is sold for thousands of dollars, featured in gallery shows and exhibited in major museums.

In 2010, he released a self-titled book of his work, described as “funny, frantic and daredevil” in nature, and capturing, “the frenetic raw energy and gorgeous, intense work of gallery and street artist David Choe.”

Choe also created his own Facebook page that, today, has more than 6,000 subscribers, and a wall full of congratulations from his Facebook friends.

ABC News’ Susanna Kim and Ned Potter contributed reporting.

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