A painting depicting bitcoin creator Satoshi Nakamoto sold for 35 BTC (roughly €10,000) at the most recent Inside Bitcoins Conference and Expo in Israel.
Called 'The Eye of God', the work was created by local artist Xania Dorfman and bought by Yoshi Goto, a mining expert employed by bitcoin ASIC developer Bitmain. Goto got his first glimpse of the work when setting up his booth at the two-day conference, which ran from 19th to 20th October and included speakers such as Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin and bitcoin developer Peter Todd.
"It was there, and it was tempting," Goto said. "I was thinking if I don't purchase the picture, I wouldn't have a right to make a copy or distribute it. I thought, maybe I was crazy, but I wanted to find a way to use it."
Goto has not decided where he will house the painting itself, saying that it could find a home at the company's Denver office. However, he stressed that he wants to find a way for the painting to become a community resource.
"I was thinking that the drawing might be good promotional material for bitcoin, because right now, when you say bitcoin, the only thing is the orange bitcoin sign," Goto said.
Goto added that he has been in talks with local Israeli bitcoin groups to determine whether it could be used in some way by the community.
See images of the artwork below:
Speaking to CoinDesk, Dorfman said that she was not familiar with the technology prior to accepting the assignment, a project for the conference organized by Israel-based mining hardware specialist Hashware.
While she remains a bitcoin skeptic even after learning more, Dorfman said that she was at least inspired by the provocative story of the digital currency's still-anonymous creator. In particular, she said she enjoyed the challenge of attempting to visualize bitcoin due to its virtual and digital nature.
"Right away, I saw this image of the Earth in my mind, because I realize that it is something that has the power to take over, you know? I saw the mask also because of the anonymity and because it was something mysterious," Dorfman recalled.
Dorfman said that with the images of the Earth and the mask in place, she next turned her attention to finding the right way to visualize Nakamoto.
Eventually, she decided to depict the creator as a godlike figure, putting an emphasis on the photo-realistic eyes, one of her artistic specialties.
"He's the biggest figure there, you see the Earth and he's above all that," she added.
A second career
For Dorfman, the painting also represents the first step down what she hopes is a path that could jumpstart her art career.
Dorfman received her Bachelor of Fine Arts from Israel's Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in 2011, but has since gone back to school to study nutritional science after struggling to find work in the art world. Still, she was encouraged by the sale, as she was not optimistic it would find a buyer.
The money she earned from the painting, she said, will be used for her school expenses. However, she said it had a much larger impact on her.
"I'm very flattered that someone was ready to pay so much for my art," Dorfman said. "Nothing like this has ever happened to me."
Still, she has been emboldened by the sale. Dorfman reported that Inside Bitcoins has invited her to produce a new work for its next showing in Paris, France, and that she has accepted, even going so far as to suggest that the event could have an influence on her career path.
Dorfman ended the interview optimistically, adding:
"I'm not a full-time artist, but maybe I will be now."
Correction: A previous version of this article stated that Goto was Bitmain's CEO.
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