Museum of Capitalism

Gold is not consumed.

Due to its value it is constantly recycled and, for this reason, all gold mined in human history is still in circulation. It is estimated that the overall volume of gold currently in existence is around 175,000 tons and half of this amount is used in industrial applications and financial holdings while the other half is used in jewelry.

This proposal for a Museum of Capitalism envisions a time when the global financial system is on the brink of complete collapse and in a moment of exceptional collective lucidity, all countries volunteer the means to attempt a new economic system. As a result of this rare global effort, gold previously used in the industrial and financial realms—half of all existing gold—is placed, as toxic waste, on a ship named “Arbitrary Equivalent.” As expected, this sudden and localized concentration of gold creates a temporary global vacuum, an opportunity for leveling the disparities created by the capitalist system—maybe.

The “Arbitrary Equivalent” is a hybrid between an oil tanker and a bulk carrier but in reality it is a time capsule carrying 87,500 tons of gold. Through its live cam, this Museum of Capitalism broadcasts capitalism’s last image: a thick sheet of gold drifting aimlessly through the world’s oceans.

In its live feed the ship’s bow can be seen pointing forward, giving the impression that it might be going somewhere. This is an illusion: this black vessel is going nowhere, it is drifting at the expense of winds and currents as an unwanted Noah’s Ark with no role to play in the new beginning.

With its engines turned off, the ship drifts through international waters. As an aquatic drone, the ship is remotely managed by the United Nations and its engines are turned on only to avoid entry into exclusive economic zones (EEZ) or territorial waters. Banned from touching land and condemned to a status of permanent statelessness, the “Arbitrary Equivalent” is an ironic refugee of global capitalism. As the oceans, this Museum of Capitalism has received the official designation of “common heritage of humankind” and is now under international jurisdiction—controlled by no single country, controlled by all.

Project Data

Competition proposal

Museum of Capitalism Competition organized by the Museum of Capitalism, Oakland, USA


Sergio Lopez-Pineiro
Tammy Teng (Publication images)


First Prize (Shared) in Museum of Capitalism Competition