PARIS – A self-proclaimed “crypto-inspired” graffiti artist left many a Parisian on Tuesday searching for clues hidden in his latest creation: a mural reinterpreting a famous 19th-century canvass that contains a way to obtain 0.26 bitcoin ($1,056.39) on the occasion of the decentralized digital currency’s 10th birthday.
“Liberty Guiding the People 2019,” the work of French street artist Pascal Boyart, is an updated re-imagining of the 1830 piece of the same name by Romantic painter Eugène Delacroix that features the incarnation of Liberty leading protesters of the “Yellow Vest” movement currently sweeping across France instead of the July revolutionaries of yore.
“In order to fully solve the puzzle, it is imperative to be located in front of the mural,” the artist said on the website Reddit.
Treasure hunters who found the mural, located in an undisclosed alley in downtown Paris, were staring intently at the wall, looking for a hint leading to a crypto-wallet containing the coveted quarter of a bitcoin (and some change).
The mural depicts “gilet jaunes” demonstrators – who owe their sobriquet to their signature garb of high-visibility traffic vests they wear while protesting against the rise of fuel taxes, the lower purchasing power of their wages and what they describe as the neoliberal policies of President Emmanuel Macron – being led by the iconic Marianne (the name given to the Republican ideal of Liberty and Reason during the 1789 French Revolution).
Boyart thus paid homage to both what began as an anti-tax revolt led by transport workers in mid-November and has now morphed into a catch-all anti-government protest, with copycat “yellow vest” demonstrations recently emerging across Europe, as well as the most widely-used of all the crypto-currencies floating through cyberspace.
The first bitcoin, known as the Genesis block, was mined on Jan. 3, 2009.
A full unit of the crypto-currency could be exchanged for 4,063.02 dollars at the time of this writing.
It was conceived as an alternative to centralized banking-dependent currencies and their inherent instability; although a decade after its creation, Bitcoin still has a long way to go in its goal of replacing old-fashioned monetary systems across the global economy.