Underneath Old Trafford, LA-based street artist Alec Monopoly is putting the “tag” into TAG Heuer, the official timekeeper and watch of Manchester United. The Swiss marque’s top-hatted “Art Provocateur” is applying the finishing touches to a mural of cartoon character Richie Rich, wearing a Man Utd shirt, shooting at the Monopoly man, the mustachioed board game property magnate from whom the creative gets his name and style tips.

Lending a hand are Michael Carrick, Jesse Lingard, Chris Smalling and Victor Lindelof, who don TAG-branded bandanas like the enigmatic graffitist. Ever the conscientious pro, new club captain Carrick declares himself unhappy with his brushwork: “Needs another coat.” They then spray paint mannequins that are wearing full kits bearing their respective names. While Monopoly’s identity might not be known to everyone, the Off White hoodie-wearing children of Jean-Claude Biver, TAG’s CEO, are very familiar with him. They told their dad that Monopoly, who judging by his Instagram account leads a jet-set lifestyle to rival the #richkids, can make the 157-year-old company “feel young”.


The presence of a fifth mannequin highlights the absence of Paul Pogba. The £98m man, no longer the world’s most expensive player following Neymar’s £200m switch from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain, arrives 20 minutes late and promptly slips off his all-white Adidas Superstars, asking Monopoly to customise them with spray paint. “I sell them after,” he jokes. Clearly inspired, Lingard reemerges with a pair of iced-out Yeezys that receive the same bespoke treatment. According to Forbes, works by Monopoly - whose economic theme was inspired by fraudulent stockbroker Bernie Madoff - go for between $20,000 and $50,000. 

Kicking ourselves for not wearing white trainers, SoccerBible grabbed five minutes with Monopoly (below) to ask him instead about the interplay between football, money and time.


Alec, what’s your personal relationship with soccer?

I’m kind of an amateur fan. In the States, it’s not as much a part of the culture as it is here. But I’ve been travelling, and spending time in Europe. I’ve always known about Manchester United though, even before I knew much about soccer. It’s one of the most iconic teams, probably one of the only teams that I knew about. So when I saw the e-mail about this collaboration, I literally jumped for joy. I was so happy. Because it’s reaching a whole other audience that I’ve never really been exposed to before. 

Is it cool in the States to be into European soccer, and the EPL especially?

It is very cool. I have the jersey that Manchester gave me last time I was here, and I wear it all the time, in the gym or just around. It’s kind of like an exotic thing. 

Have you got a name on the back of it?

Yeah, Monopoly.

Have you watched any matches?

I came on Sunday [to the 4-0 win over West Ham]. I thought it was really cool. The way the fans interact with the game, the away guys yelling and then the home guys yelling. I liked it a lot.

How did it compare to a sporting event in the States?

It’s completely different. I feel like the fans are more into the rivalry between each other. They want to pick fights. There’s a lot more tension. In America, they don’t really have that as much.


What do you think about the role of money in soccer? The transfer record was recently shattered and Pogba is now only the world’s second most expensive player.

Um, I’m not very well read up on what players are going for, but more power to them. Congratulations to Paul for gettin’ paid.

Mr Biver’s kids think you are cool. Why do you resonate with young people?

That’s what I’ve been wondering. For me, I’m just spreading positivity and fun characters, stuff like that. But yeah, the millennials love my work. I had a fan come up to me that was four years old. It’s so interesting that in this day and age, a four year old is into the art world and is a fan of an artist. I’ve been into art my whole life but when I was growing up a lot of other kids in school had no idea what art was. It wasn’t cool then. Now it’s cool.

Are soccer players also a big influence on what young people are into?

For sure. The kids totally emulate them. They follow all the trends they’re wearing, and the sponsorships. They want those same cleats, those same shoes. It’s very similar for me. I’ll wear something and then I’ll see a bunch of other kids copying the style. Which is cool. I like to inspire people.

Man Utd is worth billions on the stock market, TAG Heuer is a luxury watch brand and your work features capitalist figures. Are you commenting on them at all?

I’m just kind of exploring with my characters and bringing them into the world of football.

What’s more important: time or money?

Time. Because you can have all the money in the world, but you can’t have all the time in the world. It’s very limited.

Thanks for your time, because it’s very limited and therefore valuable...

It is. You can be a billionaire: if your time’s up, your time’s up.

Photography by Ross Cooke (Creative Players for TAG Heuer)