A privacy-invading ATM, the latest project from MSCHF, is making waves at Art Basel Miami Beach. The Brooklyn-based art collective has brought the ATM Leaderboard to a VIP event where people can access their bank account balance which is then displayed in a ranking board overhead.
The balances have ranged from $2.9 million down to zero, with photos of the account holder shown next to their balance and ranking. “Even if you’re not doing it, there’s a lot of tension in the air,” Gabriel Whaley, one of MSCHF’s founding members, told Artnet News. “Just being near it feels invasive, and it’s kind of goading you from afar.”
MSCHF’s newest marketing scheme draws awareness to people’s obvious display of wealth through material items like Lamborghinis and designer clothes and instead challenges people to put their actual wealth, down to the penny, on display.
“In Miami, you look around and everyone is wearing fancy watches and pulling up to the fair in Lamborghinis. Every conscious action people are taking in this room is a flex of wealth,” Whaley told Artnet News. “So let’s put a real number on it, and rank it with your peers.”
Visitors can take out money from the ATM without an added fee and if a person agrees to purchase the work for $75,000, the collective will also give them the $6,000 to $7,000 that’s currently inside it. (Act fast!)
The Perrotin gallery accepted the ATM Leaderboard even though it could be construed as a mockery of those purchasing the high-end artwork, but Caitlin Merrell, Perrotin’s communications manager said they don’t see it that way.
“With Emmanuel [Perrotin, the gallery’s founder], it’s been part of his DNA since the beginning to work with artists who break the boundaries of what is fine art,” Merrell told Artnet News. “MSCHF does its best work when we create a piece that subverts a system while also participating in it,” she added.
MSCHF was founded in 2016 and since its inception, it has made a name for itself through viral projects like a collaboration with Lil Nas X on “Satan Shoes” which contained one drop of human blood, were marketed at $1,018, and sold out in less than a minute.
The company doesn’t focus on one realm of the art, advertising, or marketing worlds. It just picks whatever avenue seems to work best in the moment.
Whaley has said he doesn’t know how to identify MSCHF, but he says that’s how it should be. Speaking to Business Insider in 2020, Whaley said he couldn’t characterize the company and questioned what MSCHF is.
“A brand of what? I don’t know,” he said. “Being a company kills the magic. We’re trying to do stuff that the world can’t even define.”