Serving the People x Sneeze Mag

Featuring exclusive interview with Lucien Smith by William Corman

“THE STP ISSUE”

Serving the People teamed up with Sneeze Magazine for an exclusive takeover of issue 49 — featuring artwork posters from Sandy Kim, Chito, Nick Atkins, Emma Kohlmann, Adam Zhu, and Atticus Wakefield, with Lucien Smith, Theophilus London, and more...

123 STP You and Me

32-year-old Lucien Smith has a story that follows the classic hero’s arc: Sudden rise and prominence. Temptation and fall. Transformation and return. 

Born in Los Angeles and raised all over, Lucien graduated from the Cooper Union in 2011 to commercial and critical success as a painter and multidisciplinary artist. Off the jump, his works sold for multiples of their costs on the secondary market. Brand-name galleries came calling. Famous patrons lined up.

As Lucien’s notoriety grew, the same critics who had once championed his talent then placed him in the crosshairs of Zombie Formalism, pushing the artist into an unsustainable market. 

Just because the art syndicate is over you, doesn’t mean you have to disappear into the Montauk woods forever. After a series of trials, Lucien is taking his own cautionary tale and applying the learnings to an emerging arts community by way of his non-profit, STP.

This time the acronym of many meanings stands for Serving the People. The foundation’s purpose is to lower the barrier of entry to the arts for the next generation of painters, filmmakers, musicians, and other types of creators. STP operates as both a global mentorship program and a digital platform that offers a much-needed alternative to the rigidity of the traditional gallery system.

STP officially started in 2014, but in 2021, a year where the pricing of art and collectibles is escalating at a frenetic pace, there’s no better time for the non-profit to fulfill its vision. No better time for someone to come along and push back against the nightmare galleries and tech bros whose speculative practices are ushering in the next great crash.

Meanwhile, Lucien is back painting, making films, and coming up with new ideas, which, if borne out, could mean rewriting his story beyond the self.

Interview by William Corman

WILLIAM CORMAN: I knew about you before I ever met you. I knew you as a spectator and I thought you had an ego. 

LUCIEN SMITH: That initial impression was mainly due to me lacking any sort of social tools. I was raised in a very interesting  situation, having to move around and not really being able to form a real identity. At the age of 19 or 20, I was lacking a lot of things I needed in order to provide a healthy foundation for myself. On top of that disheveledness came this overnight success. 

WILLIAM: You were a 20-something-year-old selling works for over $400,000 at Sotheby’s. You hosted star-studded events. You were working with the top galleries in the world, like Half Gallery and Salon 94 and Skarstedt. I was half-envious, half-scornful at your story. 

LUCIEN: I became an amalgamation of the perspectives and advice from all the people around me, who weren’t necessarily the best people. It was a big game of catch-up for me. 

By 2015, I had become so exhausted with making mistakes. The only way I really foresaw ever being able to have a healthy future or career was if I put things on pause. 

WILLIAM: Was it lifestyle choices? Like drinking and partying?

LUCIEN: Drinking, partying. How I treated other people, how I treated myself. How I looked at the world, how I looked at my career, how I looked at my family. Just all this stuff that I’d never dealt with and didn’t have the tools to deal with. And, trying to keep up this extremely volatile career at the same time. I had no energy to do any of it. 

WILLIAM: Did you go through some sort of life-changing ayahuasca experience?

LUCIEN: I wish. I had scrounged up what cash I had left and purchased my house in Montauk. It was supposed to be my summer home and it ended up being my home home.And even that wasn’t really an easy one. I had to transition from city life to living this more isolated one while still dealing with — and coming out of — a lot of issues. 

WILLIAM: What really went down in those years? It seems like time just passed by, but I’m sure so much more happened.

LUCIEN: A lot of development happened quite recently, but the overall progression wasn’t something that happened overnight. It was really like a bottoming out. I moved to Montauk with a plan of getting sober and dialing in my process, my career, my practice, and my life. And that didn’t happen until year two or three. I had no one around me who was really healthy, or there to provide any sort of mentorship or a helping hand. So I was just figuring shit out on my own like I always do. I made the misstep of going to Los Angeles and trying to start a studio out there. It really struck me then that less is more. I deducted more and more stuff from my life. One of those things was my gallery. Alleviating myself from expectation, I left all the galleries that I had. That’s when things started to make sense. I was independent, able to make my own decisions and make my own mistakes.

WILLIAM: Talk about giving birth to STP.

LUCIEN: It started in 2014. I did a show called Scrap Metal in Kansas City. In Scrap Metal, there were two wood panels that were oddish oval shapes with the letters STP in them. I was really interested in the history of the STP logo, from the motor oil company, and did more research into it. And part of the story goes back to the Stone Temple Pilots, who wanted to sell merchandise but didn’t have the money to produce it. So they just called their band STP and bought hats from gas stations to sell at their shows. They came up with the name for Stone Temple Pilots after the fact. And then before that, civil rights activists had adopted it for “Serve the People, Stop the Police,” and reappropriated the logo for their purpose. 

WILLIAM: That’s very in line with your work, the recontextualization of existing centers.

LUCIEN: That’s at the heart of what we want to do: take the business models and strategies of marketing and networking — all of those things from the commercial, mainstream world — and flip them on their head by using them for creative purposes. I think that’s much more servicing to community and to the freedom of community.

WILLIAM: I remember first hearing about STP like a year ago, and I couldn’t help but smirk. Here was this kind of socialite artist returning to the art world by spearheading this philanthropic endeavor. Then I actually met you and, go figure, you weren’t the person I’d made you out to be. 

LUCIEN: STP was born out of an awakening of an idea: using the things that I found to be my best traits as a way to do what I initially wanted to do with art, which was to create a better world, as catchphrasey as that sounds. I didn’t have much respect for art or understand its potential until the last five years, really. Having that sort of enlightened experience, and seeing younger people like you and at STP who were looking at me in a noncompetitive way. In my early career there was so much tension from everyone around me, including my peers, and it created an unhealthy and really competitive environment.  

WILLIAM: Which just feels so backwards in the arts. I mean, it’s how capitalism has wrapped itself around the art world.

LUCIEN: Money took all the air out of the room and created the art jock mentality. 

WILLIAM: Art jock. That’s funny.

LUCIEN: I knew I didn’t want to do that. STP is really a coalescence of all the mistakes and lessons that I’ve learned in my field, which is the fine arts, and figuring out how to now open that up to a much wider conversation. A lot of it’s based off the experiences I had [as a student] at Cooper Union.

WILLIAM: How has your definition of success changed since you were at Cooper Union? 

LUCIEN: I thought being alpha meant everything. I thought being the youngest artist to do this or do that — reach some sale price — was what would establish me as a great artist. It played a big role in what I did and the people I hung out with. Then when I started to get some of those accolades, the void kept growing and I became more and more empty. I started realizing that the things I was chasing were ultimately going to create more negativity and create more stress, and I checked myself. I really had to form my own perspective.

WILLIAM: So you moved to Montauk and made some changes.

LUCIEN: In my day-to-day now, I only do the things that make me happy and feel good. That’s not to say I’m perfect. I still go in and out of waves of self-destruction, and I have to cope with that. I need the STP button on all the time because it keeps me grounded. It keeps me connected to the people around me and the people I love. It keeps me feeling as if my life has meaning.

WILLIAM: You’re saying that meaning is greater than you? Is that what you’re alluding to with STP?

LUCIEN: I really reached an endpoint where I didn’t see the purpose of living. I didn’t see the purpose of the things I was doing and needed to find something I really believed in. STP is the solution to my existential crisis — which is to use my resources and time to help people.

WILLIAM: What does it mean to help people?

LUCIEN: I try to use the extended network I have as an advisory board for our group and for the people who participate in it. I think to help comes from a place where it’s not about what someone can give back to you, it’s just about what you can give to them.  The selfless act is definitely a big part of it.

WILLIAM: Who are the people at STP? 

LUCIEN: Internally, it’s a core group that manifested itself through friendships and immediate connections. Ben [Werther] worked for me at the Watermill Center residency. I met Sam Grund, our developer, through his brother, who was one of the representatives at SCAD during the BFA show. Mia [Manning] entered through one of the many programs we’ve put on and expressed interest in being involved in the mission. Outside of that core team is an advisory board of professionals from different fields that relate to STP, who give their input and advice to help guide the organization to success. Then comes the thousands of artists and students and creatives that function within our social media and physical networks.

WILLIAM: Who’s doing the serving?

LUCIEN: I mean, it’s gotta be an equal trade-off. We are internally and externally serving the community we support. The artists breathe life into it. I see it as this mutually beneficial exchange. As you’re providing for the people, they’re providing it right back. I think it’s really special because it does go both ways.

WILLIAM: What’s being served?

LUCIEN: In the most generalized verbiage, creativity. We’re serving creativity as something tangible. Because it can inspire and overcome a lot of the many demons society has. I really believe there’s a creative solution to every issue, and that art can help people transcend bias and prejudice. I think art is a window into the creator’s soul. And it’s not just for the fine arts. It encompasses all kinds of art, be it music literature, film, clothing, design and whatnot. 

WILLIAM: So what are the major benefits for creators producing content through STP? I’m talking, like, yoga classes with Kyle Miller, playlists by Brion Starr, and podcasts by The Ion Pack.

LUCIEN: It’s really about shared audiences in a centralized place. So when we do stuff with Kyle Miller Yoga, people who are in the yoga world are now discovering all the other things we’re doing outside of that. So all these different satellites bring in their audiences and connect these different viewpoints and different experiences which might’ve never happened in the real world or in real life. That’s my strategy. That’s why we have this multidisciplinary approach.

WILLIAM: I love that. I would’ve never done yoga if it wasn’t for Kyle.

LUCIEN: You really attended one of the yoga classes?

WILLIAM: I was like, “Fuck it, I have to get off my ass.”

LUCIEN: In a nutshell, that’s the type of experience we’re trying to create. People are so worried about analytics, right? Like page views and all that. That’s not something that’s important to me right now. If we can get one person to read the blog or one person to attend the Kyle Miller Yoga class, that’s proof that we can get millions of people to do it. I’m not in any rush. I’m in the reverse of a rush. I’m really trying to keep us in this growing and learning phase as long as possible, because as soon as this thing does grow — and it will grow into something much larger — we want to make sure we have those tools and those lessons learned.

WILLIAM: Now continuing on with these

creators producing content, one of the big problems I see — which is the case with most or every social media platform — is that content producers don’t get paid directly for creating and sharing their content. Do you also see this as a problem, and how do you see STP tackling this issue?

LUCIEN: There’s different ways to monetize on STP. One of the most straightforward ways will be by creating an artist page and uploading artworks for sale directly to it. Artists who upload and sell their work will be paid directly by the collector through the platform, which takes no percentage. For things like podcasts or playlists, that’ll be a thing where you’ll have a profile page so when you create a playlist, there’ll be like a Patreon embed and then it’s up to you whether or not you want to collect money.

WILLIAM: One of the big challenges with growing to a much larger scale is being able to nurture those individual relationships or being able to promote a specific artist’s work. After a certain while, it just won’t be feasible. 

LUCIEN: That’s the thing that I’m dealing with now. It’s why I want the marketplace to function as a for-profit and move into more of a DAO (Decentralized Autonomous Organization) so it can create constant revenue to support the foundation. And then the foundation can restructure itself. Because, yeah, the model that we’re running on now is not sustainable if we continue to gather more and more artists and creators. The foundation will function like an artists incubator. Artists will have to apply to the STP foundation, apply for grants, apply for residencies, and for support. Once making it through a decentralized and democratic barrier — and by barrier I mean the people voting, who are going to be the artists who have come through the community as well as people on the board and staff so it isn’t insular or cliquey — that’s when we can start the hands-on approach and really help nourish the artists of the future. 

WILLIAM: You have a large audience and people who look up to you for guidance. Do you feel you have a responsibility to act in a certain way?

LUCIEN: No. That’s probably what’s gotten me into trouble time and time again. On Instagram, my DMs are filled with people asking for advice on how to make it in the art world. I used to respond to all of them individually, always the same thing: “What is it that you want?” Most people just wanted fame and success, the same accolades that I had strived for when I was a younger artist. I’d always end the conversation by saying, “All the things you really want or need are right in front of you.” Art is always best when it’s made by circumstance, using what you have. With Instagram or social media, there really is no way there can ever be another Van Gogh. If what you’re making is good — if it has integrity and quality — there’s a viewer for it out there.

WILLIAM: Van Gogh, I mean, he lived a very troubled life. We like to romanticize everything because of the work he ended up producing, but he wasn’t famous. He had one or two collectors in his life.

LUCIEN: I meant it as, like, it’s almost impossible to go undiscovered in the world we live in today. There are really extreme situations or circumstances where artists just don’t possess the social tools or the understanding of how to put their work out there in the world. But when it comes to, like, “Oh, I want rich people to buy my work and famous people to know who I am,” well, I can’t help you there. You know what I mean?

WILLIAM: You were talking about all these artists DMing you, asking questions like, “How do I make money?” and “How do I get my work into the hands of collectors?” All those worries stem from financial burdens. Artists need to make money to survive.

LUCIEN: I’ve had this conversation with artists before — I’ve even had it with myself — and it’s to get a job. Find something you can do to support your art career. Because no one ever told you that your art is supposed to support you. An art career is an extremely rare opportunity that you can’t statistically depend on. The harsh thing is that life has winners and losers, you know. Some people are gonna get their dream and some people aren’t. Some things are meant to be, some things aren’t. Call it what you will: fate. You can choose to revel in defeat or you can choose to find a way to overcome that and find meaning in your life. Not everyone is going to be Pablo Picasso. We all accept and understand that, yet we all think we’re the exception — we all have the X factor, the Y factor. That’s just not a healthy way to live life. If you end up pigeonholing yourself to these ideals you become cemented in what you call your dream, which doesn’t allow you to accomplish something much bigger. Take me, for example, in my early career. All I was focused on was the basic idea of success in the arts. I would have never been able to fathom something like STP, nor would I have wanted to. 

WILLIAM: I really believe that the BFA show last year was one of STP’s greatest accomplishments. You fixed a problem plaguing students across the globe, who couldn’t show for their thesis because of the pandemic. That was really powerful.

LUCIEN: Me and Ben were at the Watermill residency playing PlayStation when he said something about Cooper not having senior shows. I hate to throw anyone under the bus, maybe I won’t. We reached out to someone at Cooper, high up on the administrative staff, to say, “Hey, STP has this platform for art. Would you allow us to host the senior class show as a way to give them a platform?” As a Cooper alumni, I thought it made sense, and Ben, as another Cooper alumni who recently graduated, thought it made sense as well. We got no response. So we were like, “Fuck, that sucks.” Then we were like, “You know, it doesn’t have to be through Cooper. We could do something on our own. Why do we need the school? Why not just reach out to the students individually?” That was Ben’s thinking. From there we started setting up a sort of ambassador program with the student bodies of all the different universities. Like, “Oh, I want to represent my school, I want to be the guy or girl who is the representative for [the Rhode Island School of Design].” So we reached out to someone at every art school, and then those people became responsible for educating their student body about our BFA show, and our resources and links to getting your work up there. Then it just all came together.  

WILLIAM: I think it was very unique. I hadn’t seen that done anywhere in the arts.

LUCIEN: The show featured over a thousand students, each contributing one artwork. I think we had about 96 universities from 13 countries. It ran through a Google submission form — there was no selection process. We let everything in. We just had to make sure that there was no pornography or anything malicious. Luckily there wasn’t. I don’t think there was one artwork that wasn’t accepted. It was just a basic list view exhibition. A lot of STPs functionality is built on my experience with art. In the past, I always dreaded openings. For me openings were never about the art. It was about the people. 

WILLIAM: Yeah, socialization.

LUCIEN: I really enjoy seeing a show the day after or on a weekday when no one’s there. But an entry point into art can be on a website. A website is an alternative to or an extension of its own gallery, in a sense. That’s where the early functionality for stp.world was born. I wanted to create a platform or virtual gallery that, aesthetically, would please the most people and have the most amount of artists want to see their work on STP.

WILLIAM: What I found so exceptional about the BFA show was the space you made digitally: having your own avatar, being able to walk through. 

LUCIEN: The virtual space was a lot of fun. I think it speaks a lot to STP being so small and so young. We don’t have a lot weighing us down like other galleries, organizations, or platforms. It wasn’t until a week before we were ready to launch the show that someone forwarded me the graduation ceremony for Parsons, which was designed by a senior, Yifu Zhang. It was a virtual experience where every one of the graduates was able to log in with their email. They got an avatar with their name, could walk around, and could clap. I was like, “Oh my God, we should apply this to our show.” I reached out to Yifu and he was totally down. And I asked, “Can you make it so that people can chat to one another? And can you create a way to display all the works visually?” He did. That came together in seven days and actually became the BFA show. For me the BFA show was the list view, and I was happy just being able to provide that. But I think Yifu’s development and the success of that [virtual show] points out how important the community plays into the art. If you don’t have the people and the experiences that revolve around those things, you’re left with something that’s really closed off. For me, that’s a big realization into what art is. Art is the excuse for people to come together, people to relate, to communicate, to feel each other. STP is just a way to allow for that to happen.

WILLIAM: What’s the future of STP? 

LUCIEN: In the next few months, I’d love to launch the new STP marketplace and allow people to participate in much larger numbers. I want the people at STP to be able to focus on providing our artists with more hands-on programming in order to elevate what they’re doing, rather than just showcasing their work. Like artist spotlights, where we’re functioning as producers. 

WILLIAM: How about in relation to Covid and the world slowly opening back up?

LUCIEN: I’m excited to see things activated in the real world. After our Group Show 3 and hearing some of the testimonials and positive responses from the artists in the show, I needed that. I think a lot of people at STP needed that. It’s hard to live in a vacuum. As a species, we’ve all gone through this shared existential crisis together. We’ve been through so much with the last president, the racial war still going on, the class divide. We’ve experienced humility and relation to one another in ways we’ve never been able to, be it financially or just being locked up in your house. I think it’s going to produce a healthier outcome, especially with the birth of blockchain and crypto. The fact it’s all happening at the same time is amazing.

WILLIAM: Let’s get into crypto.

LUCIEN: Crypto is the first punk rock thing to happen to currency since currency trading. And that anti-establishment mentality has given birth to a lot of other innovations within the crypto world — be it NFT, or, my favorite, blockchain. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that blockchain has taken off during the pandemic. It offers the ability and the mindstate, as a platform and a community, to change the world without sitting in the driver’s seat. That’s exciting for art, for politics, for business.

WILLIAM: Blockchain is such an incredibly powerful tool, but a lot of the people I see using it are in it for the wrong reasons. They’re utilizing the tech for financial gain through hype and speculation. 

LUCIEN: That’s going to happen. There’s going to be tons of NFT and digital marketplaces used in the wrong way, but there will be the few who use it in the right way. They don’t really affect each other.

WILLIAM: With the current NFT marketplaces out there, who do you think is doing it right and for what reasons?

LUCIEN: They’re all doing something right. They’re all doing a lot of things wrong. No one can give the full package. Foundation is great with analytics and how it presents work, and it functions a lot like an auction. Getting that initial bid triggers a 24-hour countdown. Living in that number one view spot toward the end of an auction is genius. What they lack is decentralization. Their community is very small and the reason for that is to, quote unquote, “sustain the quality of the work on the platform.” Rarible is great because anyone can make an account, you can create art there, and sell editions. But a lot of people aren’t educated enough to know if an edition is the smartest thing to be spending money on. A lot of platforms shy away from edition functionality because of that reason. 

WILLIAM: The big problem with these marketplaces is that they’re all just so transactional, even Foundation.

LUCIEN: Money is the reason why there’s so much popularity in the marketplace. People can’t fathom why someone is paying so much for digital content. 

WILLIAM: Which leaves no room to talk about the art. The conversation surrounding the art is about money. 

LUCIEN: That will fade. People will get bored of that conversation. It’s also a learning curve. There are a lot of talented people who just don’t understand how the space works yet. The art world is fixated on being the white knight. There are plenty of digital artists who’ve been making amazing art for a long time, and who now finally have a place to prescribe value to their work. I think Yung Jake is a great example of someone who’s been forced by the art world to make physical objects in order to commodify his practice. Watching him move into the NFT space is so amazing. It’s like, “Oh my God, we finally have created something to sustain his type of art.” Then you look at someone like Urs Fischer, who clearly has an interest in certain aesthetics that may lend themselves well to the NFT space. Him being able to enter that cannon is exciting too. It’s just a matter of time before the scale begins to even itself out and we see a focus on the integrity and quality of the work that will match the price tag attached to it. 

WILLIAM: I’m excited about entering this space because it encompasses new media artists. I really see this next decade as being the renaissance of digital art. It’s a medium that didn’t get the light of day until now. 

LUCIEN: Yeah. I’m excited to see — I don’t know if you could call them galleries, I don’t know what to call them — structures that would represent the artists you’re talking about, to be able to represent filmmakers and be able to monetize their video. I would have loved to see the NFT or blockchain model be used by an early Matthew Barney. 

WILLIAM: It would have done amazing things for this career.

LUCIEN: Not that he doesn’t have an amazing career now, but that’s the type of thing I’m interested in. The birth of a new type of gallery is really exciting. I think it’s already happening with Gagosian sort of on its last legs as far as being the apex of the art world, and a bunch of galleries becoming more like institutions. I think you’re going to have younger innovators come in and offer so much more to artists that there’s going to be a huge fallout. Some of the stronger galleries will be able to adapt, but it’s a changing of the guard. That’s the thing I want to witness and those are the people I want to work with.

WILLIAM: I’d hedge my bets that it’s these young kids who are going to change this landscape, not the people who’ve been in it. And by kids, I’m talking about anyone from 15 to 35 years old. I don’t see the change coming from the institutions.

LUCIEN: It’s counterintuitive to their business. No one wants to have to restructure from the ground up, not unless they have to. 

WILLIAM: I’ve had to rebut the argument of, “I could just take a screenshot or a screen recording of an NFT,” so many times. It’s exhausting trying to explain that shit. 

LUCIEN: I always make this one reference to [Pablo Picasso’s] “Guernica.” “Guernica” once belonged to someone privately. It now lives in an institution and someone got a huge tax write-off on it, but anyone can Google “Guernica.” Anyone can have a photograph of it on their phone, they can print a reproduction of it. Fuck it, if they want to make a one-to-one scale they can do that too. But at one point in time there was one person that really owned it, and got all the bragging rights and all the rewards of owning such a significant piece of culture. And today we have a parallel in the digital world where a lot of functionality and reality and ownership exist. When you go to the ATM or look up your bank statement online, that’s the representation of how much money you have in real life. Why could you not own something that lives solely in [the digital world] that you could digest in visual form?

WILLIAM: I think there’s an obvious dissonance with owning a digital asset, because they’ve always been free. We’ve always been able to send them to each other. All of a sudden, you can actually provide ownership to them. It’s radical. It’s tough for people to wrap their minds around it. But digital assets will become as valuable as physical assets. I don’t know if you’re aware of this, but the head of Contemporary Art Asia at Christie’s posted about a new platform, an NFT marketplace about to launch. I think it’ll be the first to try to make a blockchain-based platform for the fine arts. 

LUCIEN: There’s going to be so many NFT marketplaces. Each of them will offer different functionality and different artists. I think that might be the future of the galleries.

WILLIAM: Do you see a problem with these platforms being extremely oversaturated? 

LUCIEN: There are all these digital ways to be able to devour and represent information, so I think that the most successful NFT marketplace will feature a multitude of different categories. Then you can have millions of users on there. Instagram is a great model to understand, because there’s so much information on there yet somehow we manage to find what it is we’re looking for. I think an NFT marketplace needs to adapt to that because the whole reason our world is so flawed right now is due to gatekeeping and limited access, which is based on the limited access of physical space and operating staff. But those things don’t apply in the digital world. 

WILLIAM: Talk about the physical space. Were you nervous about locking in an office?

LUCIEN: It scared the shit out of me. The first biggest mistake I ever made was renting that studio in L.A. that was going to become sort of the ground zero for STP. It bankrupted me. I had, like, extreme PTSD about signing this lease. I was like, “It’s a pandemic, why are we signing this lease? Why are we doing anything?” But it made sense, and we’re figuring it out. Julia Fox and her crew recording their podcast there has been exciting. Having a place where all of us can meet and do stuff and have that face time, it’s worth it. I think the only reason why it doesn’t have as much of the energy — or what I’m imagining it to have — is because of the pandemic. We’re already starting to give keys out to people.That’s exciting to me. I want to walk in there on any given day and find someone working on a project I don’t know about. 

WILLIAM: Do you know about Adam Neumann? 

LUCIEN: The WeWork dude that got fired?

WILLIAM: Yeah, dude who got fired. I strongly suggest looking into him. He’s out of his mind, but in such a great way. He’s so atypical. A lot of the positives that I see in him, I see in you. The whole idea with WeWork was to be able to have different startups and small businesses all working within the same space to use each other’s resources. He was set on making the WeWork employees really build a community. He’d host annual events where he’d bring the biggest names in pop to do concerts. It all crashed because of how fast he was burning through cash.

LUCIEN: I think that points to what we were talking about before: We’re not in a rush. I don’t think [STP] will ever be done. Even if it takes me my whole life to see some of the ideas that we’re talking about now. The whole point of starting [STP] was to leave something behind long after me, and that’s it. For me, the answer is giving something to people to enrich quality of life.

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