Discover your dream Career
For Recruiters
He discovered his new vocation when he was drunk after resigning from his job.

Barclays' bored high yield trader now selling art to rap stars

Ovie Faruq was bored at Barclays. Having joined the bank as an intern in 2011, worked as a credit trader in London for six years, and then moved to New York as a high yield trader with the bank in 2018, his enthusiasm for the job was flagging. 

"The worst part of being a trader was probably that it sucked away my life," Faruq said in April. "We were working 7:00 till 5:00, or 7:00 till 6:00 and in the evenings we had to go to networking things, so that ended up being my life for almost 10 years without really being able to do much outside of it."

Despite studying mathematics and economics at the London School of Economics, Faruq said he always had artistic inclinations. As a teenager, he bought and sold cameras and used Photoshop to create wild images that were part space-fantasy, part terrestrial reality. But when he went to university, this all stopped: "I just didn't have time to continue art as a hobby when I started university. I basically just dropped it."

That was, until he got bored in Barclays' morning meetings. During one meeting at Barclays in NYC, Faruq said he "was just doodling stuff" in his notepad and ended up drawing "a picture of this guy wearing a hoodie with a skull face." The semi-autobiographical character evolved into RektGuy, one of a series of NFTs which are in the process of making Faruq famous.

On Saturday, Rapper Snoop Dogg tweeted that he'd bought one of Faruq's Rekt NFTs and made it his avatar. Trading volumes of Faruq's OSF NFTs on OpenSea subsequently rose 250%. "Yesterday Snoop Dogg bought my art and made it his profile picture. Crazy times!," wrote Faruq on LinkedIn.

Faruq didn't respond to a request to comment for this article, but he said previously that he became fascinated with NFTs after he'd been out drinking following his resignation from Barclays. "I came home and I had a few drinks and I couldn't really sleep. It was 3:00 AM and I was still up," he said. "I was scrolling through Twitter on my phone. I saw a bunch of people minting this thing called Bored Ape Yacht Club."  

Faruq had already been involved with NFTs prior to that point, but he ended up minting ("buying") 150 Bored Ape NFTs. "I was a little bit drunk. I just quit my job. It looked cool and I went for it," he said. Faruq's Barclays' colleague Mike Anderson, who introduced him to NFTs, tried to persuade him to hold back by pointing out that he was intoxicated and "in a bit of a panic life crisis mode," but Faruq didn't listen.

That was April 2021. Faruq had quit Barclays in New York to join HSBC, but Barclays convinced him to stay, and he returned to London with the bank to trade emerging markets. He and Anderson subsequently left the bank together in March 2022. The two men now run Canary Labs, an NFT investment and advisory company. But Faruq is now also emerging as a big NFT artist in his own right.

"I used to be really into art, and I actually forgot that for a very long time. When I was a kid, I was always drawing and painting. I was good at doing it at school, I liked being creative," said Faruq. 

Faruq super-fans can buy single editions of his work on SuperRare for up to $80k. Alternatively, you can currently buy your own Rektguy avatar on OpenSea for the equivalent of $1.6k, a Faruq-created flashing NFT set in a red-light district for $31k, or the semi-autobiographical portrait of Faruq sitting on a trading floor (shown above) for $3.4k. Faruq gave most of these away for free, but he gets a royalty of between 5-7.5% for each trade.

Faruq isn't entirely negative about his career as a trader. - He says it taught him valuable lessons in risk-taking which have informed his new venture with Anderson investing in NFTs. However, it's for his art that he's becoming particularly well known. And his art has the potential to be quite lucrative, particularly when trading volumes rise dramatically on the back of a big celebrity endorsement.

Click here to create a profile on eFinancialCareers. Make yourself visible to recruiters hiring for top jobs in technology and finance. 

Have a confidential story, tip, or comment you’d like to share? Contact: sbutcher@efinancialcareers.com in the first instance. Whatsapp/Signal/Telegram also available (Telegram: @SarahButcher)

Bear with us if you leave a comment at the bottom of this article: all our comments are moderated by human beings. Sometimes these humans might be asleep, or away from their desks, so it may take a while for your comment to appear. Eventually it will – unless it’s offensive or libelous (in which case it won’t.)

 

author-card-avatar
AUTHORSarah Butcher Global Editor

Apply for jobs

Find thousands of jobs in financial services and technology by signing up to eFinancialCareers today.

Boost your career

Find thousands of job opportunities by signing up to eFinancialCareers today.
Recommended Jobs
Pearse Partners
Hedge Fund Equity L/S Analyst
Pearse Partners
London, United Kingdom
US Execution Trader
Tavira Financial Limited
London, United Kingdom
Silicon Valley Bank
Associate, Lending Support Team, GFB
Silicon Valley Bank
London, United Kingdom
PER, Private Equity Recruitment
ESG Manager, Entrepreneurial European Private Equity Investor, London, UK
PER, Private Equity Recruitment
London, United Kingdom
Selby Jennings
Execution Trader
Selby Jennings
Singapore
Goodman Masson
VP - Structured Finance Solutions
Goodman Masson
London, United Kingdom