We can almost guarantee you’ll recognize the work of Alec Monopoly. Nearly every piece of art he creates features Uncle Pennybags, the face of the famed board game.
And the artist couldn’t have chosen a better focus. In the Instagram age, Monopoly capitalizes on his bad boy image to build his brand.
It’s easy to make it all about the money, but is there something deeper to Alec Monopoly? We’ll see if we can find the heart of gold behind this Insta-famous artist.
Let’s get rolling!
The Story of Alec Andon
Born in New York City to an artist mother, young Alec Andon took to art early. With a resident teacher, he didn’t feel the need to pursue an art education.
Instead, he spent his teens skateboarding around New York City, expressing himself through graffiti. Every kid in New York has their own tag, according to Monopoly, and he scrawled his all over the city.
In his early twenties, Monopoly had his first formal art show. Because of his outdoor painting activities, the police showed up at the gallery. In 2008 the financial crisis made disruptors a hot item for police, and Alec Monopoly’s arrest made headlines.
Discovering Success in Los Angeles
After his release, Alec fled to Los Angeles and started covering his face. And like every artist who leaves New York for Los Angeles, the call of money was loud and clear. He started working towards the successful career he always wanted.
In Los Angeles, Alec benefited from a more lenient attitude towards graffiti. In a city of artists, musicians, and filmmakers, Monopoly fits right in.
He found willing collaborators in business and art and began building a following through his YouTube channel and Instagram page. Corporate marketing departments loved his flashy, money-soaked lifestyle. TAG Heuer, Forever 21, and Jacob & Co. are just a few of the brands he’s worked with.
Monopoly’s net worth is around $15 million, and his paintings have sold for $50,000. His social media accounts show him flaunting the law all over the world.
And it’s easy not to like him for that reason. But there may be something more profound to this playboy. Monopoly uses Uncle Pennybags and Scrooge McDuck as examples of conspicuous consumption.
Maybe he’s using himself as the same, and the flashy lifestyle is performance art.
What Inspires Alec Monopoly?
Monopoly cites Basquiat, Andy Warhol, and Keith Haring among his influences. His current work involves a blend of graffiti and acrylics or oil painting. A graffiti background with Uncle Pennybags overlayed is his most common signature.
Andy Warhol is an important figure given his lifestyle and push toward commercialization. And like Warhol, Monopoly has seen his share of controversy.
In January 2016, it came out that he’d been employing a ghost artist, Mike Mozart. Mozart, or MiMo as he’s known, exposed hundreds of images Monopoly used as inspiration for his “official” paintings. MiMo also revealed he’d been unpaid for the first two years of the collaboration.
Why Did Alec Monopoly Stop Hiding His Face?
After hiding his face for most of his career, either with a gas mask, a bandana, or his hand, Monopoly slipped up. In 2019 at the birthday party for DJ Khaled’s son, Alec revealed his face on camera.
Given his original reason for hiding his face, the fear of arrest, Monopoly figured he’d hear from the police. But nothing really happened.
So in January 2020, he took to his YouTube channel to reveal his face and identity. And with 49,000 views, he at least got ahead of the story.
Has Alec Been in a Movie?
Alec makes a brief appearance in the film Pay2Play, an exposé of corruption in American politics. Filmmaker John Ennis set out to understand the pay-to-play system in electoral politics.
This system gives the top 1% of earners greater access to politicians who make the decisions that affect our lives. The 90-minute documentary looks closely at the systems in place and the disruptors of those systems.
Street art, by its nature, flies in the face of law and order. It subverts the systems in place and makes public statements about corruption.
In one scene, Monopoly defaces a Disney billboard with Uncle Pennybags. In another, he wheatpastes posters of Uncle Pennybags on stop light control boxes. Alec’s involvement in projects like this, and his charity work, lead us to believe he’s got more going on than just living it up.
Is There an Alec Monopoly Toy?
Monopoly isn’t against using his image to make extra cash. In fact, you can buy a toy featuring his signature look on his website. The figurine wears a top hat, bandana, and tux jacket.
The figure also holds a pink spray can in one hand. Around three inches tall, the toy reminds us of Richie Rich, who features in much of Monopoly’s work.
Other items you can purchase from the website include painted purses, shoes, Star Wars helmets, and altered photos.
Handbags and shoes are authentic, high-end items and feature original graffiti from Alec Monopoly. The Star Wars helmets come from stormtroopers and Darth Vader, and the photos feature luminaries like David Bowie, Nelson Mandela, and Madonna.
What Is Rags to Richie?
Capitalizing on the NFT craze, the artist created a series of 3,333 images featuring variations on Richie Rich. These pieces are available through OpenSea and priced in Bitcoin.
But this wasn’t his first step into the NFT market. In 2019, Monopoly created a piece that he sold for charity. And in 2020, he collaborated with artist Ozuna, putting Ozuna’s bear character and his Uncle Pennybags in the same NFT.
The artist and his brother created an NFT platform, Artrail, that’s still in its early days. The platform allows the artist and his friends to release NFTs of their own.
What Does He Do With All His Money?
Alec ensures his audience sees all the money he makes from licensing deals, art sales, and corporate collaborations. He spends gobs of cash on clothes, travel, food, cars, and his girlfriend. If you follow his social media, you’ll see him eating $500 truffles, painting $200,000 Ferraris, and sneaking into France by air.
If you’re getting Bruce Wayne vibes here, you aren’t far off. But Monopoly isn’t just about the party life.
He donates money to charity and makes sure to support kids around the world. Alec also works with We and OneSky to ensure rural children and orphans have the things they need to succeed.
Where Can I See Some of Alec Monopoly’s Art?
The best places to find Alec Monopoly’s art are online, but you can still see his work in cities worldwide. Especially around New York City and Los Angeles, his work appears regularly.
Monopoly’s most recent work is in Dubai and Southeast Asia, but you can see his painting stateside too. If you’re online and want a piece of Monopoly for yourself, check out his website and Instagram page.
Alec Monopoly: Hypocrite or Activist?
Alec Monopoly is a controversial figure among art purists. He doesn’t create art for art’s sake. Instead, Alec focuses on monetary gain as a marker of success. And with his flashy lifestyle, it’s easy to paint him with the same brush as every other Instagram influencer.
But his charity work and the inspiration behind his use of Uncle Pennybags tell us something different. Underneath the affluent trappings, we think he has a heart of gold.
What do you think of Alec Monopoly? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
Outside Folk Gallery
You can explore more folk, street, and outsider art in our personal collection at Outside Folk Art. We’re celebrating these creatives and giving voice to rising black, Native, immigrant, and working mother artisans.
We’ll also be offering pop-up shows and collaborations with small museums, so be sure to follow us to discover the where and when!