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'Da Vinci of Debt' – Natural Light (2020)
'Da Vinci of Debt' – Natural Light (2020)Courtesy of Natural Light

Is ‘Da Vinci of Debt’ the most expensive artwork of all time?

The new installation in Grand Central Station is created with 2,600 genuine college diplomas to draw attention to the problem of crippling student debt in the US

Creators of a new installation in New York City’s Grand Central Terminal have claimed it’s the world’s most expensive artwork. Commissioned by Natural Light, the sculpture was made with intention of drawing attention to America’s student debt crisis. Da Vinci of Debt is formed of 2,600 framed, genuine college diplomas suspending in mid-air and cascading in a cyclone formation from the celestial ceiling. Each diploma is valued at just over $180,000 (the average cost of a four-year college education in the US). At a grand total of $147 million, Da Vinci of Debt has surpassed the value of the most expensive painting ever sold, “Salvatore Mundi” (dated back to the 1500s), by its namesake, Leonardo Da Vinci.

The vast scale of the installation, which occupies the 6,000 square foot space at Grand Central Terminal’s Vanderbilt Hall, along with the hyperbole of the artwork’s title, draw comparisons to the scale of the student debt problem. Natural Light’s VP of marketing, Daniel Blake, has said, “College debt is one of the most important and, unfortunately, one of the most crippling issues for Americans today. We chose art as the medium to amplify the program this year because we saw that the costs of the art world were a great analogy for the sky-high cost of attending a four-year college.”

Da Vinci of Debt will be on exhibition in Grand Central Station until January 16 2021. But those of us not in the New York Metro area can experience the artwork digitally on Natural Light’s online interactive feature and AR Snapchat filter