Sterling Crispin in Garage's "Bitcoin is the New Birkin Bag"

Garage Magazine

Bitcoin Is the New Birkin Bag

Ten years after Bitcoin's launch, the coin’s scarcity has generated a market that's more luxurious than libertarian.

Link to the full article here.


“I see Bitcoin as an exotic financial asset that rich people are using to make more money, which at times is similar to art.”

“In 2012, Crispin came up with an idea for a sculpture about the apocalypse—which at the time seemed nigh: The end of the Mayan calendar threatened universal extinction. The technological singularity, when humans would mesh with robots and we would upload our souls to the cloud, threatened the end of our species as we know it. And the rise of Bitcoin threatened financial, political, and social chaos. Crispin titled the sculpture Self-Contained Investment Module and Contingency Package. Inside its cubic, steel framework is a post-apocalyptic survival kit composed of an emergency radio, heirloom seeds, a filtration water bottle, and, most importantly, Bitcoin mining hardware.

When Crispin completed the sculpture in 2015, the price of a Bitcoin was $220. “If I had dedicated [the hardware] to mining for the three years I had it, and then didn’t panic and sell when the price hit $300, I would probably be a multi-billionaire right now,” Crispin says. He’s transformed this regret into a kind of perverse creative delight. “I love the idea that as a material within a sculpture, the cryptocurrency might become more valuable than the sculpture itself,” he says.

Crispin intended the sculpture to be tongue-in-cheek; like the rest of his work, it’s critical of technological utopianism. Yet it demonstrates how cryptocurrency has evolved from a financial tool into something more akin to a Louis Vuitton suitcase, a Cartier watch, or a Jeff Koons sculpture. “People are not only buying Bitcoin in order to make money; they’re buying Bitcoin to be the kind of person who holds Bitcoin,” explains Jay Owens, a futurist and research director at the London firm Pulsar. “It’s functioning as a brand name.”