In 2015, Leonardo DiCaprio almost clotheslined me barreling through Art Basel Miami Beach, and it was awesome. The only thing that stopped our bodies from joyously colliding were his wall of golf-hatted handlers and my desire not to get face-planted into the carpet by them for simply being lovestruck. But I’m not sorry about how it worked out; the encounter has made for an A+ art fair story, and since solidified Leo’s status as my Art World Husband—as I enjoy calling him.
While Real Deal Leo has yet to be spotted at this year’s edition of Frieze New York, apparently my affections for the art collecting actor are also shared by artist Dora Budor, who has recruited three Leo-lookalikes to roam the fair impersonating some of his most memorable characters: Jordan Belfort (The Wolf of Wall Street), Hugh Glass (The Revenant) and Frank Abagnale Jr. (Catch Me If You Can). Budor’s performance piece, a commission for the fair’s Frieze Projects sector, is titled MANICOMIO!, which translated from Italian means “Madhouse!” according to Artnews.
Now, spotting Leo at a fair is pretty common. The actor is a regular at Basel and The Armory Show each year, usually appearing in a golf hat himself, sometimes cargo shorts, with his art handler in tow. While Leo himself likes to keep a low profile—traveling in his man pack and allowing photographers to capture him gobbling pizza at Roberta’s—Budor’s performance pays homage to Leo’s less subtle movie roles (there is nothing subtle about eating raw bear meat nor spending 2+ hours running in cartoonish disguises from Tom Hanks), as well as his unofficial role as the art world’s favorite (my favorite) fair mascot.
“I wanted to create the opportunity for unsuspecting visitors at the fair to experience a disjointed reality—believing that the actor Leonardo DiCaprio might be there, but seeing him, impossibly, many years younger and as characters he has played,” Budor told Artnews about the project. “He comes every year so that’s part of the idea: he becomes the fourth actor, as himself.”
“It’s like the rings of Saturn, where all Leos orbit the central idea of the eternal Leo,” Budor added.
Fairgoers who spoke with Artnews all seemed much less surprised and delighted by the Leo homage than I am. This may, in all honesty, take the prize for the best thing I’ve ever seen at an art fair, hands down, ever. Fake Leos at all art fairs from now on!
“It’s a pretty good Leonardo,”Andrew Perchuk of the Getty Research Institute told Artnews.
“It wouldn’t be shocking for him to actually be doing this because I know he loves the art and doesn’t take himself too seriously for being a big star,” said collector Mera Rubell. Yes, any man who shows up in cargo shorts on the regular to one of the most critical art events of the year probably fits that description.
Frieze is fun, don’t get me wrong, but it’s a lot more fun with a fake-tanned, fake Jordan Belfort shrieking at window-shopping millionaires wearing a ten-pound gold watch. I mean, that fucking watch.