Pascal Boyart, “Liberté guidant le peuple (Liberty guiding the people)” (2019), mural (all images courtesy the artist)

French street artist Pascal Boyart announced on social media last week that he has painted a mural somewhere on the streets of Paris with a digital prize hidden within it worth $1,000 in Bitcoin (that’s 0.26btc).

Who says looking at art doesn’t pay? You just have to know where to look.

“It’s up to you to find the wall and the solution to the puzzle,” Boyart wrote on his website. The project is sponsored by Alistair Milne, a self-described entrepreneur and Bitcoin “evangelist.” The mural includes an active QR code through which viewers can donate tips to the artist, who says he received more than $1,000 from his previous mural completed last spring. Also in Paris, Boyart labeled that past work “Rembrandt dos au mur [Rembrandt Back Against the Wall],” which referenced a self-portrait of the famous Dutch painter and his lifelong financial problems.

The new fresco is a way for the artist to give back to fans who have supported his work in the past. The project also coincides with the 10th anniversary of Bitcoin’s “genesis block,” which acts as a ledger system for the entire Bitcoin blockchain that started on January 3, 2009.

Yesterday, January 13, Antoine Giver announced on Twitter that he had solved Boyart’s puzzle, winning the bitcoin prize. The artist retweeted the blockchain engineer’s message and confirmed that his techno-race across Paris had finally come to an end. On his website, he detailed the puzzle’s complicated solution, which seems to involve a black light and some creative bitcoin key coding.

“To solve the puzzle entirely, you must be physically in front of the mural,” Boyart noted in a Tweet.

The mural itself celebrates the Yellow Vest protests, which have spread across France over the last few months. Supporters of the movement have framed it as a referendum on President Emmanuel Macron’s ambitious economic reforms; critics, however, have lamented the destruction and vandalism sometimes left in the wake of these protests. On his website, Boyart has titled the painting “Liberté guidant le peuple [Liberty guiding the people],” which borrows heavily from Eugène Delacroix’s seminal painting, “Liberty Leading the People” (183o).

Full view of Boyart’s mural
Detail view of “Liberty”
Detail view of Yellow Vest protesters

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Zachary Small

Zachary Small was the senior writer at Hyperallergic and has written for The New York Times, The Financial Times, The Nation, The Times Literary Supplement, Artforum, and other publications. They have...

3 replies on “A Street Artist Hid Over $1,000 Worth of Bitcoin in Paris Mural, and Someone Found It”

  1. A good friend of mine,,, I was there that day
    A super talented graffiti writer and artist
    Blqck Picqsso

  2. Capitalist street art, in a Socialist country? Liberty used to guide the people, now it’s their obsession with profit against the greater good that does it (such as cracking a riddle to earn money). Bitcoins subject to taxes in France?

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