Theaster Gates bought the Prohibition-era Stony Island Trust & Savings Bank building from the city of Chicago, Illinois for $1.
Yes, there was a catch: The artist had to raise the $3.7 million it would take to rehabilitate the building and put it to new use.
Gates did the thing that you’re never supposed to do with a historic building: He started pulling it apart, piece by piece.
Since 2013, Gates has been pulling chunks of marble from the building. The artist cut these chunks into “bond certificates” stamped with his signature and the motto, “In ART We Trust.”
As Gates told the New York Times back in 2013, he sold 100 marble tablets for $5,000 apiece, as well as some larger slabs that went for $50,000 each. Since they’re artworks whose value stands to appreciate, the marble chunks in fact do work like bonds.
All of Chicago’s South Side was invited to attend the opening of the Stony Island Art Bank earlier in October of 2015.