In case you haven't been following the most recent dispatches from the Dark Web—the beautiful outer reaches of 1's and 0's that our friends at Motherboard cover so well—Newsweek relaunched its print edition last week with a breakthrough (albeit problematic) cover story on the supposed engineer behind premier crypto-currency, Bitcoin. The timing could not have been better, as the preceding week included the revelation that Mt.Gox, the world's first Bitcoin exchange company, was suspending Bitcoin withdrawals indefinitely and had filed for bankruptcy, losing almost 1,000,000 Bitcoins in the process (worth over half a billion dollars at the time). It would be an understatement to say that the unregulated e-commodity has had a rough month.
In other words, now might not be the best time to invest in the mineable, finite Bitcoin. Even if there are other exchanges to buy and sell Bitcoins through—and the currency has not faced an end-all-be-all crash yet (the current value of a Bitcoin is roughly $625, according to Blockchain, as compared to $130 six months ago)—liquidating your assets has probably never been as tempting if you own a Bitcoin or two. But massive offloading could lead to bigger difficulties in the digital currency market, so the best advice could be to keep the market a-flowing. Why not invest some of those precarious block-chains in something tasteful?
While the opportunities to spend your hard-mined crypto-cash on Silk Road and other online Black Markets are always burgeoning, there are a litany of other (legal) commodities your bit-billfold may be better suited towards. Whether its trips to space or holiday gifts for your family, the scope of what you can spend your Bitcoins on is only expanding, regardless of Mt.Gox's fallout.
Here at The Creators Project, we think Bitcoins are best used for buying art. When we began brainstorming creative uses for cryptocurrencies, our friends at Motherboard noted that virtual currencies can help starving artists. Not to mention, market-driven pieces like Brad Troemel's tsa no fly series have dabbled in selling inert Bitcoins themselves as artworks. Then we realized that Bitcoins can already be used to buy physical artworks using sites like BitPremier and BitDazzle, so we decided to compile a short (and very subjective) list of our favorite artworks worth blowing the rest of your bit-wallet on. Invest wisely.
**[Update:** ArsTechnica reports that FINRA, the financial industry's self-regulatory organization, has issued a statement that “selling and using bitcoins carry numerous risks.” Take this for what you will (conspiracy theorist pay attention).]
Les Nympheas by Roy Lichtenstein
The American pop artist made 100 lithographed homages to Monet (as well as twenty-five proofs), which were published by the artist and Editions de la Tempête, Paris in 1993. For $46,000, or Ƀ74.004, you can have a signed edition of the nature-meets-comic book, courtesy of BitPremier, framed and all.
Original Orphaned Cheetah Cubs by Peter Beard
The legendary 1964 photograph by Peter Beard is available for a chill $1,100,000 or Ƀ1,767.097. The one-of-a-kind piece was taken at Hog Ranch in Nairobi, Kenya, where Beard became known for his documentation of endangered species and African wildlife.
Watercolor by Giorgio Morandi
The Italian still life legend's Watercolors was acquired by an art gallery in Belgium after Morandi exhibited in the mid-50s. For $30,000 or Ƀ48.201 it comes with its very own Certificate of Authenticity. Wouldn't this look nice above a smart-TV set to a looped GIF of a crackling fireplace?
The Other Side by Os Gemeos
For better or worse, the twin Brazilian street art maestros recently caught New York's attention through their collaboration with Banksy at the Highline. Buying the work of street artists with Bitcoin just feels right—both formats are synonymous with illegality, and generally lascivious behavior... It's a classic medium-is-the-message symbiosis. Invite Os Gemeos' _The Other Side _onto your own side, for a spare $15,000, or Ƀ24.135.
200 Bitcoins by Kuno Gorda
Today known as "the first contemporary artwork" for digital currency, Kuno Gorda's simple and original continuation of Warhol's 200 One Dollar Bills legacy is yours for $8,000, or Ƀ12.864. While it might be a bit reductive (and meta) to transmute your cold hard coins into a painting of their likeness, think of it like this: thirteen Bitcoins for 200? Even Warhol would be impressed.
Even if Bitcoin doesn't remain the world's top crypto-currency, it's hard to imagine the world without some form of unregulated online economy. Bitcoin was like taking the blue pill from Morpheus, in many ways. Even without stacks of Bitcoins to spill on hyper-expensive artworks, Bitdazzle provides more modest options both name and price. If there's one thing you can be sure of about unregulated cashflow, it's that some of it (even if just a smidge of the 12,501,600 Bitcoins in existence) will inevitably be used for buying art.
Of course, if we had the funds lying around, we know some orphaned cheetahs who'd look beauutifullll over our bedframe, which we'd subsequently rename The Dark Bed.
Images via BitPremier