A painting by Pablo Picasso sold for $179.37 million on Monday night, smashing records to become the single most expensive artwork ever auctioned. Here’s eight things the anonymous buyer of the 1955 cubist masterpiece, “Les Femmes d’Alger (Version ‘O’),” could have purchased instead.
1. Malaria protection for millions. At a cost of $3 per net – which protect, on average, two people for 3-4 years – you could spend that Picasso money saving as many as 120 million people from this mosquito-borne, sometimes deadly infectious disease. About 198 million people contracted malaria globally in 2013, according to the World Health Organization, leading to about 584,000 deaths.
2. Funding for Kansas’ money-starved public schools. With $180 million, you could replace the $45 million in state funding that Republican Gov. Sam Brownback recently cut from Kansas public schools – and then replace that funding three more times, just for good measure.
3. You could rival the economic output of an entire country. $180 million is more than the 2013 gross domestic product (GDP) of Kiribati, a nation of nearly three dozen Pacific islands that are home to about 100,000 people.
4. Feed every hungry schoolchild in the United States for two days. The U.S. Department of Agriculture spends $2.93 to fully reimburse the cost of a free lunch through the National School Lunch Program, which helped about 31.6 million children every day in 2012. For $180 billion, you could feed every one of those children a nourishing meal twice over.
5. Immunize 9 million children. It only costs $20-$40 to immunize a child against the major preventable childhood diseases, according to UNICEF. With the cost of one Picasso, you could inoculate 9 million kids against deadly diseases like measles, diphtheria, and polio.
6. Reduce the risk of HIV infection for 60 million people. It only costs $3 for antiretroviral drugs that can be administered at childbirth, reducing the risk of mother-to-child HIV transmission by 70%-80%.
7. Acquire a 100% controlling stake in Famous Dave’s BBQ. With a current market capitalization of $175.24 million, you could trade in that Picasso for Famous Dave’s, a publicly-traded American barbecue chain, serving up authentic, pit-smoked BBQ at hundreds of locations across the U.S.
8. Or buy two apartments, according to former New York Rep. Anthony Weiner.