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A bargain at any price?

October 05, 2003|Diane Haithman

This is your brain.

This is your brain on sale.

On Oct. 23 at 5:30 p.m., the San Francisco art gallery Modernism Inc. will offer a unique opportunity to get a head, so to speak, in the conceptual art trade: The gallery will hold an initial public offering of "futures contracts on conceptual artist Jonathon Keats's brain."

At the bargain price of 1/1000 of a cent per neuron, Keats, 32, plans to offer his brain for sale in million-neuron units against a 1-cent strike price.

"In other words, for 1/1000 of a cent per neuron, people will be able to purchase the right to buy his neurons when he dies at a price of 1 cent apiece, deliverable at the San Francisco coroner's office," explains art gallery representative Martin Muller.

In a sales venture that may just redefine the term "bull market," Keats likens the investment opportunity to buying futures on precious metals or pork bellies. He has filed with the U.S. Copyright Office for intellectual property protection of his mind for the requisite 70 years after his death, saying it is a sculptural object, built neuron by neuron "simply by the act of thinking."

Because the average brain contains 6 billion neurons, revenue could be in excess of $60 million, which will be funneled into the Jonathan Keats Holding Co. for "purposes of legally protecting and aggressively licensing Mr. Keats' mind."

Keats refuses to assess the future value of his neurons, citing potential risks, including a decline in his mental health or artistic reputation.

Sale organizers expect trading to be brisk, so hopeful buyers are advised to arrive early to make sure there are neurons still available for purchase. Or to put it more succinctly: Get there before Keats is out of his mind.

-- Diane Haithman

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