Regrets, regrets….deciding not to purchase a Monte Carlo Bond that is a regret. Of course it was expensive, not as impactful as say a larger print of more contemporary British origins that would cover more wall space.
The Monte Carlo Bond however is something special: Duchamp is widely accepted as the father of modernism and his preoccupation with meticulously prepared editions of his work alongside equally meticulous conceptual documents and bonds are combined wonderfully in the Monte Carlo Bond.
The bond was originally created by artist Marcel Duchamp to finance a system of wagering on roulette at Monte Carlo that he was developing. Original plans for financing of his company called for the issuance of 30 shares at assigned value of 500 francs each. The bonds were to be repayable to investors at the rate of 20 percent interest over three years.
Designed by Duchamp, the bond featured an overhead view of a roulette table and a photo-collaged portrait of Duchamp by Man Ray that shows the artist, over a roulette wheel, with his head enveloped in layers of shaving lather and his hair peaked in two horns (this also assumes yet another guise, that of Mercury, with his hair imitating the god’s winged helmet). All copies bear the signatures “M. Duchamp” and “Rrose Selavy,” but only the numbered bonds bearing a 50 centimes stamp are considered to have been legal documents.
The stamps on the bonds were numbered in accordance with their issue. Created in 1924, after he had left New York for Paris, this bond, like his earlier work Wanted: $2,000 Reward (1923), reveals his understanding of a portrait’s power to authorize a legal document, even as he subverts it.