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Marcel Duchamp "Obligation Monte Carlo" original lithograph | Monte Carlo Bond
Marcel Duchamp Obligation Monte Carlo original lithograph bond

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Medium: original lithograph. Also called "Monte Carlo Bond". A fine impression on wove paper, printed in 1938 for XXe Siecle (the very rare Christmas Issue No. 4) in an edition of approximately 1200 and published in Paris by San Lazzaro. Sheet size 12 3/8 x 8 3/4 inches (314 x 223 mm). Signed in the plate (not by hand).

Note to buyers: This piece is currently on loan to the Swiss Institute of Contemporary Art (New York) for "The St. Petersburg Paradox" exhibition (showing until August 17, 2014). The lithograph remains for sale but the buyer will take delivery after the show closes, and the Institute will issue a certificate of exhibition. Being on public exhibit in a New York museum will enhance the provenance and increase the value of this already fascinating work.

The fine print in the background reads, "moustiques domestiques demistock"; literally, half-priced mosquitos, reflecting Duchamp's whimsical sense of humor and his love of word-play. In the center is the famous portrait of Duchamp taken by his friend Man Ray. There has been much debate over this: is the artist wearing shaving cream or soap? And the "horns" on his head have been given various interpretations. On back of the sheet is printed the rules and instructions for actually redeeming the bond.

This work has acquired a certain cult status among twentieth century prints. However, it was first created not so much for the sake of art but rather as a get-rich-quick scheme whereby Marcel Duchamp could raise money by issuing bonds, and then "break the bank" at the roulette wheels of Monte Carlo. The first appearance of this piece was the actual edition of bonds, printed in 1924. Very few of the original 1924 bonds were printed and almost none have survived; one can be found in the permanent collection at the Museum of Modern Art, donated to the museum by the artist; another was auctioned by Christie's in 2010 for over one million dollars. The version we offer here was executed by Duchamp as a lithographic recreation of bond number 12, and was issued in 1938 for the XXe Siecle edition, and has since become very scarce and highly sought after.

Condition: in fine condition, with the printed text instructions on the back for redeeming the bond (see photos); this helps to demonstrate the provenance of the piece. The only condition issue is that the left margin has been trimmed. The lithograph will be matted for exhibition but will be sold unframed.