The Bizarre Story of France’s Yellow Vests, Bitcoin and a Street Artist Named Pascal

The Bizarre Story of France’s Yellow Vests, Bitcoin and a Street Artist Named Pascal

Since late October, a section of France’s working classes and self-employed has been engaged in protests and riots. The protests have largely taken the form of spontaneous – and generally amicable – assemblies at round-abouts and other major intersections on France’s national roads.

The riots, on the other hand, have been focused on Paris and have been taking place on each Saturday for the last two months. Over the course of that period, at least seven people have been killed – largely at the hands of the police – with many more seriously injured, some losing limbs and at least one having lost sight in one eye.

As a decentralised movement with no formal spokes-people and no formal organisational structure, it has been difficult for observers to make generalisations about the so-called Yellow Vests. Whilst their grievances are understood, there is still much debate about what the movement is seeking in terms of redress.

As a decentralised movement, however, it is also perhaps of no surprise that Bitcoin has put in an appearance – albeit a minor one – amidst proceedings. Previous demonstrations have witnessed a handful of protests donning yellow vests with the slogan: “Buy Bitcoin”.

And on Sunday, a new mural painting has appeared on the streets of Paris, reprising some of France’s most iconic revolutionary images, updated to incorporate a reference to France’s latest insurrectionary moment.


Gilets Jaunes France


Intriguingly, the artist, Pascal Boyart, who refers to himself as Pboy – which thankfully does not quite have the same connotation in French as it does in English – has incorporated a puzzle into one of the murals which provides clues to unlocking a prize of $1000 in BTC.

An up-and-coming French banksy of sorts, Pboy is known to be something of a Bitcoin fan, regularly taking payment for his work in the form of crypto-currency and adjoining Bitcoin payment addresses in QR code format to his exhibited works of art.

To claim the prize, participants – according to Pboy’s instructions – need to be physically present at the mural whose location is not disclosed on his website. The prize – originally worth 0.25 BTC – has increased slightly to 0.285 BTC as others have contributed their own funds to its associated Bitcoin address.

Whilst it is not quite clear if the initiative is more of a publicity stunt or a political statement, it is, he states, “what might be described as the first street-art treasure hunt of its kind,” just as “Bitcoin gets set to celebrate its 10th birthday.”