Art Basel Miami Beach

This Year's Art Basel Banana? An ATM with a Scoreboard

MSCHF's ATM Leaderboard sold for $75,000 at Art Basel Miami Beach 2022.
MSCHF's ATM Leaderboard sold for $75,000 at Art Basel Miami Beach 2022. Photo courtesy of MSCHF
Nothing in Art Basel Miami Beach's 20-year history can quite compare to the moment in 2019 when a banana duct-taped to a wall sold for $120,000. Prankster artist Mauricio Cattelan's Comedian was a viral phenomenon distilling both the absurdity of the art world and the wildness of Miami Art Week into one stupidly genius fruit. Nothing has quite compared since then, but the 2022 edition of the fair has offered up something close: an ATM with a scoreboard that ranks people by their bank balances.

The artwork, simply titled ATM Leaderboard, is by Brooklyn-based art collective MSCHF. It is, quite simply, a working ATM with a computerized scoreboard attached. You put your bank card in, withdraw whatever cash you need, and the machine takes a photo of you and adds it, along with your name and account balance, to a scrolling leaderboard, with the person who has the most money on top.

Who's currently leading the pack, you may ask? Until recently, in an incredibly Basel-esque twist, the highest score belonged to EDM superstar Diplo, who posted a video of himself interacting with the artwork on TikTok.
As of yesterday, however, ArtNews reported that since Diplo topped the leaderboard with $3 million, his score has been surpassed twice already. Number two is someone with a $5 million account balance, while number one is $9 million. God only knows why anyone would need that much cash in checking.

The artwork was brought to the fair by Emmanuel Perrotin, the same art dealer behind Comedian. Headquartered in Paris with locations in New York, Hong Kong, Seoul, Tokyo, Shanghai, and Dubai, Perrotin is considered one of the art world's "blue-chip" galleries, counting star artists such as Takashi Murakami, JR, Hernan Bas, and Daniel Arsham among its roster. (Perrotin once had a gallery outpost in Wynwood that closed in 2009.)

MSCHF is best known for high-profile, attention-grabbing projects in design and fashion. The group designed the infamous customized Nike "Satan Shoes" for pop star Lil Nas X that supposedly included actual human blood. Each pair sold for $1,018, but the collective was forced to issue refunds after it was sued by Nike over the unauthorized design, settling out of court.

According to information released by Art Basel, the final price for ATM Leaderboard was $75,000, well under either the price for Comedian or Diplo's top score. One crucial detail: It was sold to "a local collector who plans to place the work in a public setting." Mysterious! Will the ATM one day appear somewhere in Miami, beckoning every rich asshole to put their card in and play the horrible game like the world's ugliest siren? Will the scoreboard someday form an execution list of capitalist pigs for some future neo-communist regime in the afterworld? Only time will tell. Just remember, folks: Money talks, but wealth whispers.

For what it's worth, this reporter did see the artwork at the fair. I was tempted to use it, but I assumed it was some kind of scam and walked away. Sometimes, the only way to win the game is not to play. 
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Douglas Markowitz is a former music and arts editorial intern for Miami New Times. Born and raised in South Florida, he studied at Sophia University in Tokyo before earning a bachelor's in communications from University of North Florida. He writes freelance about music, art, film, and other subjects.

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