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The Bill Gates
Christo's Gates installation in New York's Central Park showed how a $21 million work of art could generate $254 million worth of commerce. But, what does that really mean? Well it means that $254 million moved from one person's pocket to another persons's pocket. And approximately 8.25% of that $254 million or just under $21 million was skimmed of the top by the City and the State of New York in the form of sales tax. And there are hotel taxes and meal taxes, too. And, every company or any person that made any of that $254 million directly had to pay Federal and possibly State income taxes on what they made. And if they employed people to make any of that money they had to pay payroll taxes on that money. And those people had to pay income taxes, too.
And, taxes are just the beginning. The City of New York probably wrote another small fortune in parking tickets (the thing they seem to do best - Thank you, Donald Mannes). And the Metropolitan Transit Authority must have minted money torturing the uunfortunate visitors who descended the stairs into their putrid morass of a subway system or ascended the stairs onto one of their glacially slow buses. And the Port Authority must made another small fortune in bridge and tunnel tolls (Yes, even people from Jersey came to see the Gates). The Port Authority also probably made a few nickels on the PATH trains, a few of those New Jerseyans must have used mass transit.
Yes, for the Government, between the taxes and their other revenue streams, Christo's Gates were like winning the lottery. Wait, they already always win the lottery. They run it and the odds suck. Bettors get a better deal with the Mafia.
Christo's Gates also showed that an artist can even triumph over bureacracy. Especially if the artist is willing to devote 25 years. The Government was willing to stonewall someone who was apparently offering them a muli-million dollar windfall. A lesser man could easily have given up.
The lessons learned from Christo's Gates are that expensive and large works of art can greatly benefit the Government, at least financially, and that the Government will do almost anything it can to prevent the realization of these large and expensive installations that can serve to benfit it. To explore, this contradiction, I am proposing to build the largest and most expensive art installation to date: The Bill Gates. And to fully capitalize on this contradiction, I propose to build it out of cash, more than $21 million worth
The Bill Gates will be a series of small gates each containing on bill of negotiable United States paper currency. The Bill Gates will be set 6.125 inches apart from each other horizontally, but will not be constrained verically to account for uneven terrain or settings.
When completed, in addition to being the most expensive and the largest work of installation art, The Bill Gates will also have required the greatest group of volunteers in the the history of art. The Bill Gates will also have to overcome Government obstacles that will make Christo's problems seem trivial by comparison.
The Bill Gates will be contructed, installed, and displayed in stages at various venues. If you would like to host an installation of The Bill Gates, please email project@thebillgates.net.
After The Bill Gates has been completed, it will be dismantled and parts of the work in several forms will be auctioned off on aucmart.com. This will help determine the value of "art" by comparing the auction sale price of the piece with the break up value of the piece.
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Copyright 2005 Matthew Lederman. All rights reserved
Contact: matt@matthewlederman.com
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