The artist who painted Facebook’s first office took stock instead of cash — and now he’s worth $200 million

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Sean Parker famously convinced artist David Choe to take stock instead of cash for painting the walls of Facebook’s first office. Now, that stock is worth $US200 million.

This was back in 2005, when Facebook was just a startup. According to an interview Choe had with Howard Stern in 2014, Sean Parker — the founding president of Facebook — had been a fan of Choe’s work for some time.

So when Facebook’s first office needed decorating, Parker called on Choe.

As a college-focused social network, Mark Zuckerberg’s company was everything Choe, who had dropped out of school and had no interest in anything like MySpace or Friendster, hated.

Choe had been charging more and more for his work, but having just come out of prison, he was broke. So, he asked Facebook for $US60,000 to decorate the whole building. But instead of the cash, he walked away with stock, and no guarantees Facebook would amount to anything.

“Most people would have said look, you know the odds of anybody really taking off with an internet company,” Stern pointed out in his interview with Choe. “Most of these companies come and go all the time, especially back then. So, you must have been half out of your mind to turn down the $US60,000.”

But Choe said it was his faith in Sean Parker that convinced him to take the stock.

Parker, this “skinny, nerdy kid,” told Choe he was going to raise money for Facebook. 

“He got a super sharp haircut, started working out every day, got tan, got a nice suit,” Choe added. “I’m like, this guy’s crazy.”

But then, Parker convinced PayPal founder Peter Thiel and LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman to invest in the company.

“I believed in Sean,” Choe said. “I didn’t care about Face[book]. I’m like, this kid knows something, and I’m going to bet my money on him.”

Choe said he was there when Peter Thiel invested in Facebook, so knew that the company would be able to pay the $US60,000 he had asked for. 

But before he even started painting, Choe had agreed to take a chance on the company. 

“I like to gamble, you know,” he told Stern.

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