A pink, pig-shaped velvet couch surfaced on Craigslist on Tuesday in the furniture section of Manhattan. Photos of the “very comfy” couch, complete with a pair of brown feet, a curly pink tail, and a rose-colored snout, matched its written description, but something about the Craigslist post smelled more fishy than piggy.
“Selling it for $250 even though my boyfriend and I bought it for over 11k and it’s in pristine condition,” the seller writes. “Need someone to pick it up ASAP as my new boyfriend hates it and sadly this is nonnegotiable for him.”
Also written in the post: The name of the gatekeeper needed for digging up all the necessary dirt on this pig.
“It was designed by artist Pavia Burroughs and is a really insane/cool addition to any home especially if you love pigs but even if you just like animals. Also very comfy!!!” the seller writes.
The post is believed to be a hoax. But as it turns out, Burroughs, the artist, is real, and so is the couch. And here’s where this New York City story, one that’s actually very Philly, leads us straight to Pennsport.
It’s here that Burroughs, 31, begins her day each morning, often sitting on a standard, mint-green love seat dialing into Zoom meetings from her South Philly apartment. As well as an artist, Burroughs is the director of design at Philly’s celebrated sweet shops The Franklin Fountain and Shane Confectionery.
“I immediately choked when I read the part about the $11,000 dollars,” says Burroughs when asked about the Craigslist listing.
Burroughs, who sells her current work through the Etsy shop As Cold As Earth, made the couch back in 2010. It was part of her senior thesis as a sculpture student at the University of the Arts.
“My thesis was about folklore and the mundane and was heavily influenced by Kit Williams' Masquerade, this esoteric and beautifully illustrated book I read growing up,” says Burroughs. “There’s one illustration with this man who’s playing a song for the world, and he sits up on a pig that’s covered in leaves and is crying.”
It took Burroughs about four months to craft the pig, which, at its core, is a chair that Burroughs originally picked up off the street and was using in her South Street college apartment.
“I stripped it down and carved installation foam to shape the butt, the head, and the arms of the pig,” says Burroughs.
The end result was indeed “very comfy,” says Burroughs. But it was large, and after acing her thesis, she immediately listed it on Craigslist for sale. The starting price was $950, but Burroughs believes she ended up selling it for $500. It went to a man named Martin Roesch, who drove a couple of hours from Maryland to retrieve it.
“The buyer told me that pigs were tied somehow to the branding of his company, and that he was going to use it as office furniture,” says Burroughs. “I haven’t seen the couch since, except when it pops up on Craigslist in fake ads.”
Yep, that’s right. This isn’t the pig’s first rodeo on Craigslist. Craigslist posts of the couch appear to date back at least as far as 2011, as Twitter user @birthday_dinner documents in a deep dive Twitter thread. The pig has allegedly traveled everywhere from Tennessee to Florida to New York, an extensive journey Burroughs believes could never be true.
“There’s no way that an amateur 22-year-old upholster made something that could travel all across the country,” says Burroughs. “But this is all delightfully weird and it keeps getting weirder.”
Many of the Craigslist posts originally listed the couch for free. “Strange couch, smells like ham, call for details,” reads one of them.
Burroughs says the postings have become almost a yearly occurrence. One that sticks out is a post by a woman who listed the couch along with the phone number of a man she once dated.
“There was a revenge post in 2018,” recalls Burroughs. “She was angry he wasn’t a vegan, so she put his number on there for people to call.”
All of the posts use Burroughs' original photos, taken in a University of the Arts basement. It’s another sign that the couch isn’t really going anywhere.
Ask Burroughs if she’s involved with any of the postings, and she replies with an immediate “no." At this point, when friends point out the Craigslist posts, often resurfacing on other outlets like Reddit and Twitter, Burroughs says she gives them a quick glance and moves on. But she does find the whole situation amusing.
“The couch is owned by the Internet now. I just think it’s funny,” says Burroughs. “I do hope it’s still alive, and that it’s bringing someone joy somewhere outside of a joy of trolling on the Internet.”
So where is the couch now? The original buyer, Roesch, could not be reached for comment. Roesch is the founder of an open-source network intrusion detection system called Snort, which, of course, is marketed with a pig logo. Burroughs imagines the couch might still be in his Maryland office — or in a dumpster.
“The head or something probably fell off, and that’s probably the reality of it,” says Burroughs.
There’s at least one person currently on a mission to track it down, a “clandestine antiques dealer hired to repurchase it for some larger project that he’s being very hush-hush about,” says Burroughs. An email from this mysterious middleman came into Burroughs’ inbox this week, along with more than a handful of others from up and down the East Coast.
While the couch has seen its fair share of Internet fame, this is the most viral it has ever gone.