A week of Playboy, Cardi B and NFT


Photo-Illustration: by The Cut; Photos: Getty Images, courtesy of Tim Bengel

There is no rotten $ 120,000 banana taking this year’s Art Basel by storm. Throughout the week, one can see people lining up for several hours to get a colorful newspaper a Saint Laurent activation on the beach and / or wearing the Ruinart tote with David Shrigley’s worm painting. At the fair there are a handful of silly artwork that looks like it’s set to be the focus of the day – the banana guy is back with a bunch of dear dead pigeons, another man tries to sell cups of coffee for $ 1,000 a pop, and a third is actually selling a gold-plated avocado bagel for $ 2.9 million. hurry).

But the thing everyone seems to be talking about is NFTs. The established artists I talk to throughout the week seem anything but chuckle at the idea – “I stay away from it all,” Kehinde Wiley tells me, his expression suspicious, as Judy Chicago barks in. laughing and says “not interested.” Still, an explanation for all of this escapes me, and while my mission technically isn’t to learn more about NFTs, I think now is a good time. All week long, I’ve been getting invitations to events like the ‘Bitchcoin Salon’ and ‘Metaversal Dives’ – events bringing together leaders from ‘tech, philanthropy, and the arts’, which sounded terribly wrong. .

Determined to avoid parties hosted by crypto exchanges and venture capitalists, I found myself Thursday night in a $ 34 million house on Sunset Island. All the celebrities are confined in a dark corner of the garden. Karli Kloss towers over Josh Kusher, who drinks a Blue Moon and looks sideways at Rita Ora. (Kloss is an investor in W magazine, whose party it is, although everyone calls it the Burberry party, despite the fact that W marked everything from towels to pool floats; “what is W? It is Agitation,Insults a man I’m chatting with at the martini bar.) Security guards sneak past the crowd, which is an embarrassed 10-hour mix of fashion people and influencers.

One of those influencers, who I believe is Camila Coelho, looks stunned when I mention NFTs, but I soon run into my friend Chris *, the perfect person for my investigation. He has a childish and cherubic face, wears mostly Louis Vuitton tracksuits, and is always on the lookout for the next big thing. (He’s vague about his job, but he also has a lot of Rolexes and Ferraris.) Chris knows “absolutely nothing about NFTs” but wants to buy one, has a budget of $ 10,000 (“little baby has a mortgage “), And when I ask him what he would get for $ 10,000, he says” a picture on a screen “and seems pretty happy with it.

A Burberry DJ at the W Magazine DJ booth.
Photo: Darian DiCianno / BFA.com

A little later, Jared Leto arrives in Gucci and looks thoughtful of someone who meditates a lot. This is one of the three times I will see him at a party this week, and each time he does the exact same thing: walks in with a polite but detached expression that falls into a sort of melancholy disappointment, as if he had expected to meet a friend and be up. No one notices, and he leaves after ten minutes.

There’s no food here – Miami parties don’t seem to have any snacks like New York parties – so I leave after hearing David Zwirner’s party on the Freedom yacht still spent sofas. I googled that Freedom yacht and had reason to believe it was a giant boat, but it turns out it’s the kind of paneled barge that they set up restaurants in. I spend the time talking to a Navy Seal who tells me “NFTs are the future”. When I ask: “The future of what?

I finally give up the bathroom and head for the big party at Soho House. Hosted by the Rimowa luggage brand, I hadn’t planned on going because why would I go to a suitcase party? Nonetheless, several people I spoke to this evening said it was “going to break out”. When I arrive, I see that the door is blocked by a large crowd of influencers (now called “creators”), and I am very tired. A publicist who attended later told me it was “a lotWith a meaningful look. That, and there were no suitcases.

Out of the infamous suitcase festival.
Photo: Jenny Lin / Courtesy of BPCM & Rimowa

Considering Thursday was a bit of a disappointment in terms of NFT, a lot is happening on Friday night. I have high hopes – Playboy throws what they called a ‘surreal party’ at Casa Tua, which appears to be celebrating Cardi B’s birthday appointment as the new Creative Director in Residence. When I arrive, most people are crammed into a small room on the top floor of the restaurant, which is decorated with Playboy prints, giant fake clouds and rabbits walking around in silk pajamas.

Julia Fox eating cake on an artist at the launch of Playboy’s BIGBUNNY.
Photo: Frazer Harrison / Getty Images for Playboy Enterprises International, Inc.

Tattooed man confuses my boyfriend Jay with Salt Bae. Jay goes with the bit for a few minutes, but the tattooed man is really nice, so Jay reveals his identity. The guy plays like he knows it was a joke from the start, but the disappointment in his eyes says otherwise. His name is Alligator jesus, and he makes crimped grids and these fantastic silver rings in the vein of Elsa Peretti’s bone handcuffs. He has been investing in NFTs since 2017 and explains that we are all moving towards “a digital world of decentralized communication” anyway.

The woman’s cake.
Photo: Frazer Harrison / Getty Images for Playboy Enterprises International, Inc.

Cardi B walks in with her group and everyone who is not known is evicted to the first floor, where two mostly naked people sit and also eat a cake in the shape of a life-size woman. Outside, a dancer dressed as a sexy alien struggles and moans in a fountain as heavenly music vibrates in the background. (I see her in my hotel elevator the next morning dressed as a schoolteacher, and she says she had a good time but her neck hurts.)

Maija Knapp playing in Nina McNeely’s Salvador Dalí-inspired Playboy collaboration.
Photo: Frazer Harrison / Getty Images for Playboy Enterprises International, Inc.

Around 2 a.m., the party begins to calm down. An older white man puts on the cake woman’s wig and dances alone in a corner, and I catch up with Aric Chen, the former curator of the Design Miami art fair, who says NFTs have a lot of potential in terms of solving “digital tracing, ownership and authorship issues,” but that “right now, they’re just making a bunch of PDFs very expensive.” Asad Syrkett, editor-in-chief of Elle Decor, intervenes, explaining that what you buy with an NFT is a genuine item. “So if it’s a meme of Adele saying she doesn’t collaborate with Peppa Pig, you bought the original artifact – the video, the MP4 file – from Adele saying she doesn’t collaborate with Peppa Pig. “

“You own this artifact,” he continues. “Even if someone copies it, what you have is the original version of it.” I ask him if there is any tangible financial incentive for this, and he smiles uncertainly. ” I do not think so. I’m pretty sure this is a one-time purchase. So what’s the benefit? “Control,” he said, shrugging his shoulders.


Saturday morning starts on a Dom Pérignon »Yacht concierge”Cruise around Biscayne Bay. I learn a lot of interesting things about champagne on the ride, like that Dom Pérignon was actually a French monk and what happens when you drink 14 year old wine on an empty stomach. I forget to ask anyone about NFTs.

That night, after a Lizzo concert where the artist invited Drake, through song, to ‘cry in the pussy’, I hit the last party I can handle, the launch of Cardi B’s Whipshots. , its “revolutionary” alcoholic whipped cream.

The invitation promised a gathering of Cardi’s “closest friends and industry partners”, but I get to a random crowd of 300 people texting on daybeds and drinking something called ” Bronx Mule ”(vodka, lime, bitters, ginger, whipped vanilla and orange peel), a real ??? of a glass. Young lady wearing deer antlers says it’s “the worst alcoholic drink” she’s ever tasted, but Chris says “Whips are so good, get the vanilla flavor” even though grimaced as he drank it. I play it safe and order a tequila soda, but it turns out they serve Kendall Jenner’s 818, which I would recommend for people who love the taste of candles.

The Bronx Mule.
Photo: Arturo Holmes / Getty Images for the lashes

A kid named Ray Mancini who “made his way” into the party by jumping the fence tells me that he brings in his father, Ray Mancini Sr. (the former boxer known as “Boom Boom Mancini” ), in NFTs. “There’s a company that wants to do NFTs for fighters, so I’m going, Pops, we’re gonna do that. He has works of art made of him. Action shots. So they want to collaborate with that and sort of just do an NFT. You know the whole NFT situation, don’t you? “

I say no and he says: “It’s digital art. It’s never physical. So if I put it at $ 1, someone buys it from you for $ 1, they can return it for $ 1.50. Turn over, repeat. Turn over, repeat. Turn over, repeat. So, this is for the collectors who can make easy profit, but it is also for the artists who get residue on every transaction. How this translates into real, tangible profits is unclear, he says, but has to do with bitcoin. Thank you, because this is the first time anyone has explained DTV in a way that even makes a bit of sense. My plane leaves in a few hours, so I’m going back to the hotel, well a little wiser about NFTs.

On the way back to New York, I meditate on something Chen said: “All of our economies are based on illusions. What’s interesting about NFTs is the extent to which they make us aware of it. Our world operates on systems of trust and consensus. A wine glass is worth what it is worth because we agree that it is what a wine glass is worth. But it really has no intrinsic value. Very little has any real intrinsic value.

This is true for the NFTs, but it also seems to me a metaphor for the whole Art Basel affair and perhaps the art industry as a whole, with its golden bagels and dead pigeons – c is cool and expensive because some say it should be, and we whipped cream masses follow suit. As for these NFTs, the truest and most accurate thing about them was said by my friend and fellow writer Diana Tsui: “You know, I don’t know what a fucking NFT is, and it is. probably why I’m going to be poor for the rest of my life. Let’s drink to that.

* Names have been changed.


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