FALL RIVER, Mass. (WPRI) ─ The videos have been making their rounds on social media – Business owners nationwide have been answering unknown FaceTime calls that usually end in tears.
The guy making the call is David Portnoy, the founder of Barstool Sports. He’s letting those business owners know they will be receiving a check to help their businesses pay for expenses, made possible by the Barstool Fund.
There’s one big requirement to qualify, according to a video made by Portnoy. Businesses must have two employees on their payroll. After that, he says, you should just list what you need the money for.
It’s those details that caught the attention of artist Rene Gagnon. The Fall River native is a big a fan of Portnoy and was already in the process of incorporating him into one of his signature pieces when he heard about the fund.
“Dave is posting videos, he’s talking to people, and they are getting immediate help,” Gagnon said.
Gagnon said he has created murals in cities such as New York City and Los Angeles, and he’s even created some international pieces. However, Southern New Englanders may recognize his work from a color mural in downtown Fall River.
“When I saw what he was doing, with this fund, I was like hey, this is a perfect opportunity for me to give back, you know? As an artist, and as a human, I wish I had millions of dollars to donate, ” he said. “At the moment what I have is art currency.”
That’s when Gagnon took to social media to announce he will be auctioning off one of his paintings and donating the money to the fund.
The fund has raised millions of dollars and has helped several businesses so far, according to the website.
“It’s the tragedy of everything we’re seeing now, and the viral videos of business owners being shut down,” Gagnon said. “When I saw Dave I was like perfect, now I’m just going to take this piece of him, I know he is a Mass. guy, maybe he will comment on it and maybe it will gain some traction, and we will see where it goes until about Jan. 1.”
The first time he posted the piece of art, Gagnon said it didn’t receive much traction. But the second time, when he shared the finished product, Portnoy responded.
“He commented, ‘This is wild,’ and that’s my style, I like it wild,” he said.
Gagnon said he is taking bids through DM on Twitter, and right now the price to beat is $17,000.
As someone who had to apply for aid himself earlier this year, Gagnon said this is the least he could do.
“If I sold it for $100 and was able to donate $100, at least I did my part,” he said.
Gagnon said the auction closes on New Year’s Day. He will give the highest bidder 24 hours to claim the piece before moving on to the next.