Most Expensive Painting Ever Sold

Most Expensive Painting Ever Sold

HONG KONG — David Choe grew up rough in Los Angeles, and there were some run-ins with the law that resulted in jail time. He claims to have been a looter during the L.A. riots in 1992. He did the cover art for a Linkin Park album, hopped freights in California and set out to hitchhike across China. His striking poster of President Obama (which is said to be hanging in the White House) has a hidden message that can only be seen by black light.

But we’re getting ahead of our story, because Mr. Choe, 35, the Korean-American muralist and graffiti artist, is about to become part of the American 1 percent.

In 2005, the bad-boy artist was commissioned to paint murals at the first corporate headquarters of Facebook. As payment, he was offered the choice of cash or shares of Facebook stock. Although he said the very idea of Facebook seemed “ridiculous and pointless” at the time, he chose the stock.

He chose wisely.

If Mr. Choe, 35, has not previously sold his shares on the secondary market, they will reportedly be worth some $200 million when Facebook begins trading publicly later this year. As reported by my colleagues Nick Bilton and Evelyn Rusli, Facebook’s public offering on Wednesday will create some instant billionaires and many multimillionaires.

Mr. Choe’s rise in the art world has been nearly as intriguing as Facebook’s ascendance in the social media world. Some of his career is charted in his monograph, “David Choe,’’ a book that will strike some as vulgar and obscenity-strewn. The introduction, for example, is drawn from slurs and criticisms that Mr. Choe found when he Googled himself.

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