Become an AD PRO Member
Buy now for unlimited access and all of the benefits that only members get to experience.
Natty Light, beloved cheap beer of choice for college students everywhere, possesses far more heart and soul than one might expect. Last week, Natural Light Beer unveiled a large-scale project that evidences a depth of compassion for its customer base, a burgeoning advocacy streak, and a full-fledged understanding of not only art history, but also the important role architectural landmarks play within society. What, pray tell, could this possibly be? A sculptural installation that the company is referring to as the world’s most expensive art piece.
Let us explain. The work, which is actually titled Da Vinci of Debt, is a large-scale paper installation composed of 2,600 college diplomas. If each degree represented was priced at $180,000—the average cost of a four-year college education in the U.S.—the sculpture would be valued at $470 million. Notably, that’s more than the Da Vinci work Salvator Mundi sold for at auction in 2017. Fetching $450 million, it set a new record and made headlines at the time. (Coincidentally, the work is once again in the news for another reason this week: The Italian police just recovered a stolen copy of the famed painting.)
Regardless, while all this explains the title and claim behind Natty Light’s installation, its construction and location are striking in their own rights. The kaleidoscopic structure of the work invites passersby to cast their gaze upward, thanks to its sheer monumentality of scale. What is more, thanks to the fact that the Da Vinci of Debt has been installed at Grand Central Station, it’s likely to receive a fair share of viewership.
Art fans not currently based in New York City can still see the work thanks to an online interactive feature. But for those most interested in the meaning behind the work—and the current student debt crisis that impacts so many around the nation—Natural Light Beer is also putting its own money where its mouth is, thanks to an ongoing 10-year, $10 million commitment to help individuals pay off such student loans. More information as to how to apply for this year’s $1 million in funds is available online.
Another view of the installation.