Artist’s Facebook Page Is Auctioned Off for $115, Promptly Covered in Dick Pics
This is what happens when you hand over control of your online persona.
Image: Kari Paul
A haphazard group of artists, locals, and random passersby shuffled into small Brooklyn venue Shwick on Friday night to watch artist Nick Hugh Schmidt auction off the login information for his Facebook page.
The 28-year-old, who initially tried to sell the account on eBay, would be handing over the keys to his online identity to the highest bidder. Opinions varied on the value of the page as participants picked up their numbered paddles to begin.
"I just...like...how is this art?" one attendee, who admittedly came for the free beer asked. "Is that too cynical of me?"
"I have a background in economics, and I think it's worth at least $150 based on what you can do with it," said another person at the auction, who capped his own offers at $75.
Michael Powers, a professionally-trained auctioneer hired for the event, started by pitching the product to the audience.
"You can poke his grandparents, or catfish your ex-lovers," he said of the Facebook account. "He's got over 800 friends, he's a pretty likeable guy."
The bidding took off from there, starting at 99 cents. The auction lasted about 20 minutes in total and ended with a final bid of $115 from Andrew Ohanesian, another Brooklyn-based artist who will take over the account. Ohanesian has never had a Facebook page of his own.
"I like this idea you can have someone else's persona online," Ohanesian said of the purchase. "I'm not interested in catfishing people. What I'm more interested in is using the shell of Nick's persona to promote my own manipulative goals, because I wouldn't want to do that as myself. It's much easier for me to promote myself through him."
He said he would start off with his new identity by promoting the upcoming show of Don Pablo Pedro, an artist who was also in attendance at the auction.
If giving a stranger total control over your Facebook profile sounds anxiety-inducing, you may have good reason. Immediately after the account was handed over to Ohanesian, his friend Pedro attempted to post a photo of his testicles to the Facebook wall of Schmidt's mother. He haphazardly poked a handful of random friends from the account and accepted all of the pending friend requests in Schmidt's inbox. The account was shut down within the first 24 hours since its takeover, apparently for setting a dick pic as the profile picture, but it appears to be active again.
Schmidt said he went into the auction with no expectations or restrictions of what would be done with the page. Although the account had garnered bids up to $165 on eBay before the sale was shut down, he said he wasn't sure how high the price would go for in real life.
"I thought it would sell for $5, I had no idea," he said. "It's hard for people to understand the concept of this, what potential value it could have down the road."
Before the auction even started, Schmidt recognized the potential trajectory of social media sabotage. "Maybe in a few weeks all of my old Facebook friends will hate me," he laughed.
But that doesn't seem to deter him from handing over his private information. For his next project, he said he is planning to sell his iPhone and all of the open accounts on it for the remainder of its contract. For now, you can poke Schmidt's successor (whoever that may be) through his profile here.