Don’t Pass Go: Unpacking the Feud Between Mike Mozart and Alec Monopoly

Posted on: December 10th, 2015 at 10:29 am by
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Mike Mozart (alias, MiMo) has a new exhibit at the 212 Arts gallery starting tonight. You’ve probably never heard of him, but certainly seen his work both on the streets and in stores.

For instance, the Alec Monopoly collaboration with Forever 21. It’s come to light recently that while the 28-year-old designer muralist can paint (you cannot fake live painting), much of his art sold to Forever 21 was conceptualized, designed, illustrated, and/or otherwise remedied by a “guy behind the guy.” That would be Mike Mozart, and we have the proof.

But first, let’s dig a little deeper on Alec himself. Supposedly he was considered one of the top 10 most Googled artists last year. Yay. He’s a low-level “Bansky,” and wants his identity hidden. He covers his face. Alec Monopoly, or should we say, ALEC ANDON (click for pics)? His family represents his artwork at Andon Artists Management and brother Avery acts as publicist.

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Must share an excerpt from this absolutely hilarious article bit from Internet Gawker entitled “The Newest Instagram Rich Asshole Royalty: This Bad Graffiti Artist”:

Monopoly…has his own gimmicks: he almost always covers the bottom half of his face, or appears masked. He also wears a top hat, like a Monopoly piece or a Steampunk pick-up artist…Alec standing on top of a Ferrari, as if to say “I am significant and successful enough in the contemporary art space enough to use an expensive car as shoes”…Brian Edelman, chief executive at Rain, a digital-advertising agency, commissioned Alec Monopoly to paint a graffiti-inspired game board onto his kitchen counter and to spray-paint Monopoly Man onto a pocket door in his loft in New York’s West Village. Mr. Edelman, 32, says he is a friend of the artist and received a discount for the work. Mr. Andon estimates the projects would retail for about $35,000…Alec Monopoly has more than 200,000 Instagram followers. Art is dead.

A faceless man (Alec), with a robotic voice in the video below, has a face.

My brain is about to explode from confusion. We have art that’s not art, but is art that was stolen from someone else?  According to various interviews (many linked here), Alec states that he’s a graffiti artist. No. He’s a street artist. Wait, they’re the same. He’s a vandal. Nope. Vandalism is too aggressive. It’s all so confusing and the paradoxes continue accompanied by mind-numbing contradictions.

Alec openly admits to hiding from the NYPD Vandal Squad, something a graffiti artist would do because they’re vandals (in this context, according to Alec) and if you are not vandalizing then why would Vandal Squad waste their time on you? Alec says that bombing is destruction of property. Ok. That’s a fact. However, in another interview he happily admits that bombing in Bel Air makes the “imagery stick out.”

I try to bomb areas where people will really enjoy it and take it in. Unlikely places such as Bellair [Bel Air] and Beverly Hills really makes the imagery stick out and catches people off guard.


..

I just want to reach as many people as I can wether [whether]  it be in the 
streets, a gallery, or a museum. It’s important to express 
myself in an eye catching manor [manner] bringing art into people’s everyday lives where 
it normally wouldn’t be, making it an interesting surprise.

In yet another interview he says: “…I’m addicted to doing illegal street art, it’s like a rush. I find myself sometimes coming to a city where I’m given walls where i can paint. But I’ll find myself hitting the streets doing art on illegal spots before I even get to the legal ones. That rush is part of the addiction I have to doing graffiti.”

Alec, are you confused? We are.

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Now, let’s re-introduce Mike Mozart (MiMo) and the proof that he had previously ghost-drawn for Alec Monopoly. We’ve seen text messages between the two collaborators, and even private folders stashed with dozens of drawing ideas that eventually led to an Alec Monopoly mural of some sort. For his part, Mike doesn’t claim ownership of these pop culture characters – namely Hasbro’s Monopoloy Man – and admits the derivative nature of the work openly. He’s foremost an illustrator, and has been for over 30 years, with credits in hundreds of children’s books. He is also the creator of JeepersMedia, a YouTube channel that predominantly reviews toys and their “fails.”

“Alec Monopoly has painted AT LEAST 60 unique works of art based on my Original Design Drawing of Mr Monopoly on the cross!” Mozart explained in a recent Instagram post. “I have secretly collaborated with Alec Monopoly since then, until about April this year. NOTE: I will no longer collaborate with Alec Monopoly!”

Alec, in his defense, maintains that Mike was not a “mentor” or “collaborator,” but a freelance work-for-hire. That all illustrations were properly compensated with no further claim on rights.

However, Mike told Art Above Reality that he was not paid for services rendered during the first two years of work. Nor does he admit to signing any work-for-hire documentation.

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