Calhoun: Wake-Up Call

David Choe, a street artist worth $200 million in Facebook stock, made his mark on Denver

The newly painted wall outside the Denver Performing Arts Complex looks like a million bucks. Make that $200 million. Because that's what graffiti artist David Choe stands to make in Facebook's public offering: When the street artist did a piece for Facebook headquarters years ago, he took his pay in stock. Choe, who is based in Los Angeles, was one of three street artists featured in last month's Terminal Kings project, billed as bringing "world-class" art to a city that many of us would argue already has world-class artists. Choe, along with Sam Flores and Highraff, was hired to create a giant mural -- one-hundred feet by eight feet, painted in panels -- that Denver International Airport's Art and Culture program will use as construction barricades at DIA over the next five years as the South Terminal construction project progresses. And the trio created this public art very publicly, in a makeshift gallery at City Hall.

Choe finished his mobile mural early, and was itching to leave his mark on more of the city. With the help of Denver Arts & Venues, he found just the spot on the west-facing wall of the Buell, at 13th and Champa streets (see more of this David Choe work here).

Too bad Arts & Venues didn't ask Choe to give a financial-planning workshop for artists, too. Back in 2005, the now 35-year-old Choe, who already had a rep as a bad-bay artist, was commissioned to paint Facebook's first corporate headquarters, and was offered his choice of cash or stock. Although as he told the New York Times that the idea of Facebook seemed "ridiculous and pointless" at the time, he chose the stock.

Which is estimated to be worth $200 million when the Facebook IPO finally goes through.

Many would argue that Denver International Airport is already home to world-class art...or at least internationally notorious art. "Mustang," in particular, has gained more than its fair share of attention. Get details in "DIA Blue Mustang only the third most bizarre piece of public art in USA? Really? (PHOTOS)."

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Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun

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