Contemporary Box Criticism: 10 Cardboard Boxes That Are Worth More Than Your Soul


Brillo 5, a work of art by Gavin Turk, will be auctioned off at Christie’s postwar and contemporary art sale on September 23. It is estimated that Brillo 5 will reel in $30,000. Brillo 5 is the cardboard box to your right. Christie’s describes the piece of art as “an ironic and ambiguous work that is essentially a copy of a cardboard box.” Be it art or be it a cardboard box, Turk’s creation will no doubt pay the bills. With that in mind, we realized that boxes are exactly what we need to turn this economy around. After the jump, we present 10 of the city’s most underrated (and valuable) cardboard boxes. Live well and prosper.

10. Bugle 7, $31,000 Bold, overarching statements often fall flat on their face. This is not one of them: Bugle 7 is the most underrated box of our generation. Mercilessly strapped to the edge of a bicycle, Bugle 7 effortlessly depicts the humanity of mankind. Just as the box is bound by a bungee chord, we, too, are bound by the bungee chord of mortality. This work of art is humility incarnate.

9. Bounty 28, $39,000 Box critics have always debated the merits of bountiful box display. Is the act of combing multiple boxes into a singular work of art a bold claim against individualism and — dare we say it — an endorsement of fascism? Whatever the motive of the artist, none can deny the relevancy of Bounty 28’s controversy in the box art industry and in modern art as a whole.

8. Bestrokk 9, $43,000 Bestrokk 9 is the work of an anonymous artist who has planted similar pieces throughout all major U.S. cities. Once a prized piece of social commentary on the struggle of the working class, Bestrokk 9 has over-saturated the mainstream consciousness, as it is produced in overbearingly abundant qualities. Bestrokk 9 has since steadily declined in value throughout the last two decades.

7. Bionical 405 The most direct descendant of Brillo 5, Bionical 405 was created in reaction to the universal acclaim of Brillo 5. It is most identifiable for its depiction of the classic archetypal battle of Man Vs. Nature. Man goes into forest. Man cuts down trees with his bare hands. Man sends wood to a manufacturing plant. Man makes cardboard box. Man is victorious.

6. Burger 10, $67,000 The common box shopper often overlooks Burger 10, so here’s a tip from the inside: Go to your nearest burger joint. We both know that you have nowhere to go, but you must resist your temptation to eat at the restaurant. Recite these lines verbatim, “May I take the burger to go?” It comes in a box. It’s Burger 10 in the flesh. You are now very, very rich.

5. Bruce 1, $82,000 Bruce 1 is the cornerstone of virility. Its phallic structure is just as much an ode to the average man as it is a eulogy to the Greek gods. It is man who created these legends and it is man who renounced them. The most intriguing aspect of Bruce 1 is that its mythology trumps its earthy form. They say women become pregnant just by looking at it. They say men are not immune either.

4. Baloo 98, $95,000 Widely speculated to be a cardboard representation of T.S. Eliot’s allegorical poem, The Wasteland, Baloo 98 is significant to both the American Literature movement and the Modern American Art movement. It’s candid portrayal of a box “down on its luck” is unprecedented to this day.

3. Bodyshop 711, $190,000 Bodyshop 711’s fearless geometry single-handedly ended the cubist movement in box art. Reviled by its contemporaries, Bodyshop 711 has received new-found acclaim in the last several years. We don’t blame them for taking so long to catch on — true genius can take centuries to comprehend. And we have done just that.

2. Banana 6×5, $275,000 A utilitarian work of box art, Banana 6×5 is the Eastern response to American box art. It has seemingly merged artistic integrity with uninhibited practicality. Banana 6×5 provides a safe means of food storage for supermarkets worldwide.

1. Best 000, $300,000 Upon its unveiling to the public, Best 000 garnered praise from every esteemed critic within the box art industry. Reprinted with permission: “Best 000 isn’t just a cardboard box — it’s a lifestyle.” “I named my first child ‘Best 000.'” Best 000 defines me as a person.” “Not since Brillo 5 have we seen such an accurate display of what a cardboard box actually looks like.” “If Best 000 had reproductive organs, I’d have a family of five by now.”

Which is your favorite box? Do you own a cardboard box? How much do you think it’s worth?