I punked the Sotheby's Burning Man auction

Sotheby's Boundless Space: The Possibilities of Burning Man auction is underway and I've wasted no time having a little fun with it from 3,000 miles away—with the help of some friends. As you might remember, I am one of the artists whose work, specifically an "Eat Fuck Kill" lot, is being auctioned off.

As one of the artists, I was invited to the opening festivities at Sotheby's in Manhattan. But I couldn't justify a weekend trip from California to New York. Believe me when I say, the FOMO has hit me hard. It started last Friday when I got namechecked in the Jack Rabbit Speaks, Burning Man's e-newsletter. I realized my mistake and started checking for cheap last-minute flights, without success.

I told myself that I would have to live vicariously through friends who made the journey. I would have to just be at their mercy for photos. Thankfully, they didn't disappoint, as you'll see.

So, Saturday morning rolls around and the gallery is officially open. I'm at home eating a bowl of oatmeal when the first text comes in.

[7:22 a.m.] It's Friend "A," who shares this photo of my lot just sitting there on a table at Sotheby's… SOTHEBY'S. This is absurd on many levels!

I text back and forth a little with this friend, expressing sadness for not making the trip. Then I take a closer look at the photo and make an absolutely reasonable request:

Needless to say, I'm not feeling too confident that Friend "A" will carry out my wishes. But that little sign had to be mine. It will make me feel better for not going, I'm sure of it. So when another person, Friend "B", sends me photos of my lot, I make the same request of them.

[9:01 a.m.]:

No immediate response.

[9:10 a.m.] Another photo of the lot is texted to me by another friend, "C." I put out my plea to them, adding the "rolling on the floor laughing" emoji to raise the devious energy up a notch.

Oh, now this sounds a little more promising. But there's no time to take chances on something so important, so I take it to Instagram.

[9:something a.m.] I've heard that it's possible to manifest anything. We're going to do this.

[9:32 a.m.] Friend "A" texts again, this time with some news:


My bet is on Friend "C," so I check their Facebook feed. Sure enough!

At this point, I'm jubilant. Belly laughing that I've been able to pull strings from across the country for a little sign. I respond in the comments, "Fuck yeah!" and "Nice snatch job!" Friend "C" then comments on my Instagram, "If they didn't make multiples of that sign, then…" Truth.

[1:19 p.m.] Not knowing that I've already heard the news, Friend "B" tells me that the sign has been taken by Friend "C." We have a good laugh. At some point, Friend "A" tells me that they are sharing an IRL laugh with Friend "B." This is fun. It's been a long time since I've had this kind of fun.

Friend "B" then posts this photo, writing, "Now look what you've done!! People are TOUCHING things!!!!" I might be dead now.

It could have stopped there, sure. But I'm a Cacophonist, dammit, and I had an idea. An idea that would continue the fun. (For those who don't know, Black Rock City was born from a Cacophony Society event, a "zone trip" that moved Burning Man from San Francisco's Baker Beach to Nevada's Black Rock Desert. So, really, these shenanigans are in the spirit of those early days.)

To continue the fun, I will first need to know who's staying past the weekend. I ping all three of my accomplices. Friend "B" says they'll be there all week. Great. I then ask if they will do a favor for me. Yes. They agree to help hatch my scheme, first by helping me locate the closest copy/print shop to the gallery. They find one two blocks away.

Then I get to work. I spend the better part of my Sunday futzing around in Photoshop. I finish the project and send it off to be printed out on cardstock. I alert Friend "B" that it will be ready to be picked up on Monday morning.

Then I wait.

[11:26 a.m. Monday] Friend "B" sends a photo of them holding the FedEx Office envelope, "Brilliant! They should be installed shortly." It's ON!

[10 minutes later]:

The rest of the lot isn't missing, it's inside the box, I checked.

The replacement sign I made is now in place—phew! I no longer have to feel bad for pushing my friends to commit petty theft OR worry about some miscreant actually, you know, TOUCHING my unprotected work.

Here's a closer look:

Within the hour, Friend "C" has replaced each sign on the table with one of mine and it's just the most beautiful sight:

Sotheby's estimates the value of the lot to be between $100 to $200. As of this writing, bidding is up to $300. Obviously, the addition of the "Do Not Touch" sign makes it a complete piece and more valuable. Priceless, really, haha. In fact, as the artist, I say it's not complete without the new sign. The work itself is a meme and memes, by nature, evolve. The playa's first meme has evolved awaiting the virtual hammer on October 8. Bid now, bid often.

Oh, one last thing. In the spirit of untouchable art, I minted an NFT of the sign, pricing it high enough to keep it from being touched.

images and screenshots via Cacophonists (all used with permission)

Big thanks to Kim and Harley—so grateful to be part of this auction!