Charles Schwab ‘Fires’ Painter Whose Art Draws on Stock Market Fluctuations

When do art and money not mix?

Installation view, Sarah Mehoyas at 303 Gallery. Image: Courtesy of SarahMehoyas.com

Installation view, Sarah Mehoyas at 303 Gallery.
Image: Courtesy of SarahMehoyas.com.

Sarah Meyohas, the visual artist who drew considerable attention for a show this past January which involved trading shares on the New York Stock Exchange and then making paintings about it, was dropped by her broker Charles Schwab. Felix Salmon has a fascinating report on Fusion.net connecting the dots. It suggests that Schwab, which refused to comment or explain why it closed the artist’s brokerage account, did so because of the show, which was held at 303 Gallery.

Meyohas’s website features a detailed description of the project, where she notes: “Once I have moved a stock price, I will redraw it on canvas with oil stick.” The artist told the Atlantic that the act was “scratching into a stock like, ‘I was here.’”

Installation view Sarah Meyohas 303 Gallery, New York 507 W 24 S

Sarah Mehoyas painting at 303 Gallery.
Image: Courtesy of SarahMehoyas.com

Salmon points out that the stocks “were small, illiquid securities,” continuing that “Meyohas bought shares as high as $29, sold shares as low as $22.05, and ended up losing money on the stock while making this painting.”

Meyohas wrote that a company called “Paradise INC” was her first trade for the project, which was completed on January 12. “The broker called me up to tell me I was the only person in paradise,” she writes. “I made the stock move by fully one third of its market cap. It was the smallest company I moved.”

The rest of the paintings in the show were the result of trades made from a TD Ameritrade account that Meyohas set up specifically to fund the artwork.

According to the letter Meyohas received in March: “During a recent review of the account referenced above, we determined that it no longer meets Schwab’s business guidelines for accepting and/or maintaining accounts. Schwab is now exercising its right to close your Schwab account.”

Under the terms of its broker/client agreement, Schwab was in its rights to terminate the account, Salmon writes, since it may be a case of market manipulation, as Bloomberg financial writer Matt Levine notes in his January 20 column.

Despite the closure, the story has a “happy ending,” as Salmon points out. “TD Ameritrade, where she did all the rest of the trades in her show, was more than happy to be her new brokerage. Indeed, a broker there loved her project and said that it was ‘an honor’ to have her as a client.”

Meyohas also drew considerable attention and interest with her “BitchCoin” show last February in Brooklyn, where she created a cryptocurrency to offer pieces of photographic prints to collectors.

artnet News reached out to the artist for comment, but she did not respond to requests by time of publication.

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