While David Choe is best known for getting his start in the world of graffiti, he has since become one of the most well-known and culturally relevant artists in the world. Choe still utilizes this medium in a majority of his work but has challenged himself in a wide range of other ventures over the past few years. Outside of the art world, his ambitions include acting, podcasting and music. With so many different hats to wear, there is no shortage of questions that need to be answered.
What is David Choe's net worth? What does the future hold for him? For answers to the “how much is David Choe worth?” question and more, please be sure to read on.
Early Life and Career
David Choe is now known as an established artist and pop culture figure with a frenetic, graffiti-driven style. Despite his additional passions, his roots remain in the world of artistry. His works will often touch on themes such as sex, animals and urban living. Choe’s early life was filled with struggles, though. Born on April 21, 1976, in Los Angeles, Choe grew up as the son of Korean immigrants, who were born-again Christians.
Unfortunately, in 1992, his parent’s real estate business was burnt down as a result of the L.A. riots. It was at this time that Choe decided to quit high school. From there, he began traveling through America, Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. Eventually, he made his way back home to start art school at the California College of Arts, but he dropped out before completion.
School wasn’t for Choe, and his focus was on his art. Choe learned to draw at a young age, but as a teenager he became interested in graffiti and in 1990, he began to follow in the footsteps of some of his art heroes like Mear One and Hex. Eventually, he started illustrating for magazines like Vice. He also was a writer for these magazines as well.
During his early career, he also took part in a Vice web series, “Thumbs Up!” that lasted from 2007 to 2010. He was also part of “Dirty Hands,” a 2008 documentary about his life as a struggling artist.
Choe continued to work hard to be part of art exhibitions at locations like the Santa Rosa Museum of Contemporary Art, Jonathan Levine Gallery, and Lazarides Gallery. These exhibitions helped him showcase his style and showed his progression from a graffiti artist to a renowned artist, sought after by celebrities and powerful people.
How Did David Choe Make His Money?
David Choe has a lot of different mediums that he uses to express himself, and his art has a dirty style. These have all translated to income earning. Choe is not just an artist. He also has tried his hand at being a podcaster, journalist, musician, and actor. His works have had big roles in the entertainment industry and reflect urban culture.
One of the things that helped him refine his art was the graphic novel he wrote in 1996, “Slow Jams.” While the novel was not a big money maker, it helped him enrich himself. Choe was able to refine his style from a mere graffiti artist, creating art that was able to hold people’s attention. As he refined his style throughout the early 2000s, he was able to show the depths of his talent. He’s quite versatile with his art, which makes studying his pieces fresh and exciting.
As an artist, Choe has arguably made the most money. However, he made this money indirectly because most of his financial holdings were connected to the increase in Facebook’s stock value more than the value of his art itself. Nevertheless, he has made significantly more as an artist than any artist can expect, and beyond his Facebook mural, he’s had a lot of other moments of acclaim. For example, during the 2008 presidential election, he painted a portrait of Barak Obama with the word ‘Hope.’
Choe has also made a big move as an actor. In Netflix’s “Beef,” he starred as the character, Isaac Cho, and he also made most of the title cards for the episodes, showing his big involvement with the acclaimed show.
According to We Got This Covered, Choe amassed much of his fortune in a highly unconventional manner. It all started when he was contacted by Napster founder Sean Parker back in 2003. Parker wanted to commission a painting from Choe but when it came time to pay up, Parker found himself buried in litigation.
Undaunted by his legal issues, he vowed to Choe that he would get a painting from him as soon as he was free and clear. “Just wait for this bulls–t to blow over,” he implored Choe. A man of his word, he contacted Choe again two years later. At this time, Parker had become closely involved in the inception of Facebook. The company’s headquarters were in need of some artistic flair.
Choe had recently gotten out of prison at the time, a sentence that was served as a result of an altercation with a police officer in Japan. Parker made a unique proposal to the young artist. He could be paid $60,000 for his work, no small sum at the time. Or, he could receive the same amount in Facebook stock.
As Choe explained, according to Nextshark:
“I believed in Sean. I didn’t care about Facebook… I’m like, this kid knows something and I’m going to bet my money on him.”
Once Facebook’s initial public offering took place, Choe’s shares were worth a whopping $200 million!
David Choe’s Net Worth
The aforementioned Facebook windfall compromises a sizable percentage of David Choe's net worth, which currently rests at $300 million. He is currently 5th richest painter in the world and will continue to add to his net worth with a plethora of new projects. If Choe continues to act, he is likely to increase his net worth even further.
David Choe’s Bright Future
Choe has no doubt gone from a struggling artist to a recognized artist, but even with so much success, he does have challenges he must face to maintain a good future. David Choe has faced controversy, which has made many people not want to support this artist and actor. Despite being in notable projects like Netflix’s “Beef,” these controversies could slow down his success and make it harder for him to get all the opportunities he may want going forward.
According to Insider, in 2014, on the DVDASA podcast, Choe told a story about sexually assaulting a massage therapist. This clip has resurfaced on Twitter, causing more outrage over the incident. In 2014 and then again in 2017, Choe gave apologies for what he said. He also claimed that the story was not real, and acknowledged he made a bad joke. Choe continued to say, “In a 2014 episode of DVDA I relayed a story simply for shock value that made it seem as if I had sexually violated a woman.” He also said that at the time of his comments, he had been struggling with mental illness.
Choe has also had some legal problems. Around 2003, he was arrested in Japan. He had been part of an art show but had an altercation with a police officer, which led to a few months in jail. Thus, his history is far from spotless, and his past discrepancies are often brought back to the forefront.
It is unclear the long-term consequences of Choe’s controversy, but there’s no doubt that Choe’s past could very much impact him during the years to come. Even so, he’s got plenty of resources, so he should be set for the rest of his life. With his Facebook fortune to serve as a base, Choe has the ability to pivot to any project that tickles his fancy and we look forward to seeing what the future holds for him.
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Written by Allen Lee
Read more posts by Allen Lee