What Is David Choe Net Worth?

David Choe is an incredibly successful artist from the US, known for his paintings, graffiti, and murals. You might recognize his signature bucktoothed whale symbol if you’re into street art. He’s worked with magazines like “Hustler,” “Vice,” and “Ray Gun,” and even had a podcast called “DVDASA” with Asa Akira, a well-known adult film star. Choe has written several books showcasing his art, including “Slow Jams” and “Bruised Fruit: The Art of David Choe.”

He’s been the subject of a documentary called “Dirty Hands: The Art and Crimes of David Choe,” and has made appearances on shows like “Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown,” “Vice,” “Better Things,” and even “The Mandalorian.” And get this—his net worth is an astonishing $300 million!

Early Life

David Choe’s story began in Los Angeles on April 21, 1976, where he was born and raised in the vibrant Koreatown area. His parents, also immigrants from Korea, were devout Christians. Growing up, he developed a knack for drawing, particularly inspired by iconic pop culture like “Star Wars” and “G.I. Joe.” The allure of graffiti art captivated him, especially after witnessing the work of local artists like Hex and Mear One.

However, his path took a turn after the tragic events of the 1992 L.A. riots, when his family’s real estate business was destroyed. In the aftermath, Choe decided to leave high school and embark on an adventurous journey. He hitchhiked across continents, exploring America, Africa, Europe, and the Middle East for two remarkable years.

Upon his return to California at the age of 21, Choe pursued a formal education, enrolling at the California College of the Arts. Yet, his academic journey was brief, as he dropped out after just two years, opting instead to follow his artistic passions in unconventional ways.


David Choe got into trouble for his graffiti and ended up spending a week in jail. When he got out, he moved back in with his parents. He started drawing for magazines, like “Vice.” He also starred in a web series for “Vice” where he and his friend hitchhiked and traveled around. Around this time, he also got involved with a cool store and magazine called “Giant Robot.”

Even though fancy art galleries weren’t interested in his work, Choe didn’t give up. He found an unusual spot to display his art—a local ice cream shop. People loved it so much that the shop let him keep his art there for two years, adding new pieces whenever one got sold. It was a surprising success!

David Choe Published A Novel

In 2006, David Choe took a bold step and self-published his graphic novel “Slow Jams.” He started small, making only about 200 copies and handing them out at Comic-Con in 1998. Later on, he submitted his work for the Xeric Grant, a program supporting self-publishing comic book artists, and was granted $5,000 to create an expanded edition of 1,000 copies.

The book hit the shelves in 1999 with a cover price of just $4. However, its value skyrocketed over the years. Nowadays, you might find copies selling for hundreds of dollars on eBay. It’s a testament to Choe’s talent and the demand for his unique artistic vision.

For more than ten years, David Choe’s friend Harry Kim filmed a lot of what David was up to. They turned all that footage into a documentary called “Dirty Hands: The Art and Crimes of David Choe.” The movie shows David as a street artist who did some risky stuff but also traveled a lot.

Despite the tough times, David kept painting and showing his art in galleries. He even got a solo exhibition at the Santa Rosa Museum of Contemporary Art in 2005. It’s cool to see how he made a name for himself in the art world, even with all the challenges he faced.

First big art show

David Choe had his first big art show in New York City in 2007, called “Gardeners of Eden,” at a gallery in Chelsea. The next year, he had another solo exhibit in the UK, titled “Murderous Heart,” in London and Newcastle.

In 2013, he showed off his watercolor paintings at a museum in Mexico City, and in 2017, he had a special exhibit called “The Choe Show” in Koreatown, but it was only for people who got an invite.

Choe’s talents don’t stop at painting—he also designed the cover for Jay-Z and Linkin Park’s EP “Collision Course” in 2004. Plus, he voiced the main character in an animated movie called “We Are The Strange” in 2007.

Personal Life of David Choe

David Choe has been involved in charity work, helping raise money for causes like Wyclef Jean’s Yle Haiti and painting with kids who need extra support through The LIDÈ Haiti Foundation.

But Choe’s life hasn’t been without its ups and downs. In the early 2000s, he ended up spending three months in a Tokyo prison after a misunderstanding with an undercover security guard. While in prison, he got creative, making over 600 drawings with just one pen allowed in his cell. He also made some unusual paintings using tea, soy sauce, blood, and urine.

In 2014, Choe stirred up controversy when he talked about behaving inappropriately towards a masseuse on his podcast. He later said it was all made up for entertainment, but it caused quite a stir.

In 2017, there was more trouble when he was picked to paint a mural, and some artists weren’t happy about it. They protested, saying they didn’t want to support someone they felt had contributed to a culture of sexual assault. Choe apologized for his past words and actions, saying he never meant to hurt anyone.

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