After cutting up a $30,000 Damien Hirst print, getting into a (now settled) legal entanglement with Nike over custom Satan sneakers and sending Grimes to the Met Gala with a sword made from melted-down guns, Brooklyn art collective MSCHF last week dared the wealthiest attendees of Art Basel Miami Beach to reveal themselves.
“ATM Leaderboard,” the group’s latest work, is a working ATM that displays the cash balances of anyone who uses it. Throughout the five-day fair it ranked users — with photos captured by the ATM’s camera — according to the size of their bank accounts, for all to see, like the high scores of a classic arcade game.
Top of the “ATM Leaderboard” as of Saturday, the fair’s last day, was a $9.5-million account balance, according to MSCHF. (A photo of the ATM’s display screen, sent to CNN by the collective, shows a colorfully dressed couple alongside the seven-figure sum.)
At Art Basel Miami Beach, where the art world converges for a week of fairs, lavish parties and music festivals, artworks regularly sell for millions of dollars.
“‘ATM Leaderboard’ is an extremely literal distillation of wealth-flaunting impulses,” Daniel Greenberg, co-founder of MSCHF, told CNN in an email. “From its conception, we had mentally earmarked this work for a location like Miami Basel, a place where there is a dense concentration of people renting Lamborghinis and wearing Rolexes. These are analogous implicit gestures to the ATM Leaderboard’s explicit one.”
The project is a joint effort between the art collective and Perrotin Gallery, which also represents Maurizio Cattelan, the provocateur whose banana-taping antics at Art Basel in 2019 created a multi-day frenzy at the annual fair.
Perrotin is currently hosting MSCHF’s debut show at its New York gallery, describing the group as “a conceptual collective whose elaborate interventions expose and leverage the absurdity of our cultural, political, and monetary systems.”
On display are “wavy” versions of classic sneaker silhouettes (an earlier version of which is subject to an ongoing lawsuit from Vans); swords from the “Guns2Swords” project; a three-dimensional model of Jennifer Lopez, constructed from paparazzi photos of her leaving a dance class; and one of Boston Dynamics’ “Spot” robots rigged with paintball guns. (The engineering company condemned the latter project and disabled the robot through a backdoor, according to the exhibition.)
As to where the ATM may pop up next, Greenberg said that’s up to whomever wants to acquire or borrow it. Top scores will remain on the leaderboard after each showing, arguably raising the stakes for subsequent users.
“Because of the camera, the ATM keeps a continuous record of each person who uses it and also each location that it is installed, so we hope that it will have an opportunity to move through more spaces,” Greenberg explained.
This article was updated with a new leaderboard figure from the last day of Art Basel Miami Beach.