A Legal Pad Scrawled With the Words ‘Buy Bitcoin’ Just Sold for $1 Million

The pseudonymous Squirrekkywrath bought the sign, which was flashed on television during a 2017 hearing.

The sign on yellow legal pad that sold on April 24 for $1 million. Photo: Scarce City.

The crypto community may have a reputation for spending wildly on digital collectibles, but a recent New York auction has shown it can be equally profligate with physical items.

The collectible in question is a regular yellow legal pad (now framed) with the words “Buy Bitcoin” scrawled across it. Back in 2017, the sign became an instant icon and mantra of cryptocurrency proponents when it popped up behind then-Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen as she spoke about monetary policy live on C-Span.

Its author was Christian Langalis, then a 22-year-old intern at the Libertarian think tank Cato Institute. Langalis sold the item on April 24 following a week-long auction through Scarce City, an online marketplace for Bitcoin goods and Bitcoin NFTs.

A woman sitting at a desk during a congressional hearing. Behind her, a man holds up a legal pad that reads "Buy Bitcoin."

Janet Yellen speaking in a congressional session with the “Buy Bitcoin” sign behind her. Photo: Scarce City.

The winning bid was $1 million (16 BTC) from the pseudonymous Squirrekkywrath, with the handover taking place at Manhattan’s Pubkey, a self-described Bitcoin dive bar that also displayed the work throughout the auction.

The lot’s notes stated that the drawing had been removed from the pad after the congressional hearing and since reattached with archival wire.

Elsewhere, it was described on Scarce City as a drawing that “marked Bitcoin’s intrusion into the global monetary landscape,” one that had “spawned countless memes, derivative works, and imitation stunts.” It was offered as a rare physical artifact for a virtual commodity, though, of course, the mining of Bitcoin is very much physical in nature.

As the auction drew to a close it saw a frantic flurry of bidding. The last hour saw prices jump from 4.4 BTC to 16 BTC, an increase of roughly $700,000—though an error in the final minutes of action showed $6.4 million was bid, a mistake that was quickly corrected.

“It’s good to finally liberate this number from my sock drawer and offer it back to the Bitcoin public,” Langalis said in an artist’s statement. “The message was subversive then, but now merely obvious: Bitcoin is flowing. Control is dead.”

This confidence speaks to the sizable, if fluctuating, rise that Bitcoin has experienced since Langalis raised his sign in Congress. In 2017, Bitcoin’s price stood at $2,300. In March, it hit a record high of $74,000, partly on the back of major financial services such as BlackRock getting involved in the digital asset. Retail investors are also slowly returning to crypto after being scared away by volatility and the collapse of marketplaces such as FTX.

It’s not the first time the “Buy Bitcoin” sign has been leveraged. In 2019, a run of 21 replica editions sold out at an average price of 0.8 BTC, roughly $64,000.

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