Forget that $250 million Cezanne. The art world’s new pricing mystery is the Readymade McNugget.
On February 20, Rebekah Speights of Dakota City, Neb., offered a three-year-old McDonald’s Chicken McNugget, alleged to resemble the profile of George Washington, on eBay. The starting bid was $100. Buyer offers went up to at least as high as $356. The link is now broken. Maybe some wealthy potentate made a pre-emptive bid?
The deep-fried morsel looks less like Washington per se than like Marcel Duchamp’s 1943 portrait of the Founding Father, Allégorie de genre, created for Vogue magazine and never published (above right).
I made a George Washington in the geographical shape of the United States. In place of his face, I put the American flag. It seems that my red stripes looked like dripping blood, and Vogue lost their minds. They thought it would cause a scandal. So they refused my project. They sent me forty dollars for my trouble and it never appeared. André Breton bought it for three hundred dollars.
You got it: an original and unique Duchamp construction, created a generation after Fountain and The Large Glass, sold for less than a Chicken McNugget apparently did, just now. Okay, $300 went further in the 1940s but consider: The nugget was part of a 99 Cent McNugget Tuesday deal.