What happens when you hang 100 $1 bills in a tree?

(Video link) Amy (with the help of her friends Ben and Brian) attached 100 $1 bills to a tree on a public street. She says she did it "just to see what would happen." A lot of passers by didn't notice the tree. A lot of them noticed the tree but kept walking. A lot of them took one bill. A few took more than one.

What would have happened if Amy had attached $100 bills to the tree instead of $1 bills? (Via Cynical-C)


  1. Most people who noticed had simply been conditioned not to believe it through several generations of idiomatic wisdom.

  2. Nice use of iMovie 09 . i guess mainly the dreamy filter ..

    I think when people see a tree with dollar bills (plus visible sticky notes) they think it is just yet another marketing device, and would feel bad trying these dollar bills in the next star bucks .. “what do you mean they are fake? I got them from the tree out there”

  3. I think most people would assume that money hanging from a tree is very unlikely to be real, especially given the stickers on each bill. The simplest explanation is that they are a marketing ploy and therefore they are generally ignored.

  4. 1. There have been experiments where people put money on the ground and paint a circle around it. Few people will pick it up. Do something weird with money and some people feel like someone is watching and will catch them “stealing.”

    2. $1.00 really isn’t worth much and people may value either their time, or the aesthetics of the money tree more than they value what they can buy for one dollar.

    3. People are not observant:

    And, I kind of agree with the “marketing” thing above. After 10 years in NYC, I just assumed anything “free” or “weird” on the street was a ploy to get me to buy something and I ignored it all. I’d probably assume it was “monopoly” money of some sort advertising a check-cashing service or something like that.

    1. There’s always the ol’ Affix-A-Silver-Dollar-To-The-Sidewalk-With-Epoxy gag. Stand back and watch the suckers tug!

      But spotting a coin or bill on the sidewalk is a mundane, everyday experience (well… often enough, if not every day). Dollars growing on a tree is different: if you notice it, you instantly know that someone deliberately put it there, and you automatically have to wonder, “What’s the catch?”

      I wouldn’t bite, no matter the denomination. If they’re small bills, I figure plenty of people need ’em more than I do. If they’re big bills, I figure the catch is that much bigger, the hidden camera must be around somewhere, and just like with the Turkish ice cream vendor that brought me so much heat, I don’t wanna be part of somebody else’s sideshow.

  5. I’m pretty sure the artist Chris Burden did this in, like, the 1970s. Still cool, but not original.

  6. Moreover, I’m curious to know if she’s forced to take the video down for not only using that Temper Trap song without permission, but not even crediting them in the credits.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to be able to use popular music I’ve paid for legally in videos I produce, but it says right in the youtube TOC that you need to have rights and permissions to any and all content including music. So she’s not only violating their TOS but also opening herself up to the RIAA and the label coming after her.

    If this goes viral she may have to deal with that unfortunately. I hope not. That said, interesting idea, nice to see people following through on their ideas.

    1. Quote: “Moreover, I’m curious to know if she’s forced to take the video down for not only using that Temper Trap song without permission…”

      What, do you think that money grows on trees?

    2. The copyright holder has the option of having the video removed, or having AdSense ads placed on the offending video (the copyright holder gets any revenue generated from those ads.

    3. Well I do hope they did get permission if needed but I am glad they used the song because now I have discovered some great new music!

      Thanks for naming the band Reynolds617!

  7. Answer to your question: if it were $100 bills, a dude shows up within five minutes with a chainsaw and a pickup truck.


  8. “This video contains content from Liberation Music. It is no longer available in your country.”

    It was Sony this morning cockblocking the parkour cat, and now this. I have to admit, it’s pretty clever of Google to get people pissed off at copyright holders.

  9. i was surprised that so many people only took a few one they realized what it was. that was encouraging. looks like a few people enjoyed a free coffee or muffin that morning courtesy of this harmless social hack. many smiles.

    i was not surprised that so many people just walked by. by in large, that is how we are socialized when we encounter unusual things out of our daily experience or normal comfort zone. How else could a human being just walk by homeless without feeling or helping.

  10. Many Years ago, a friend of Mine used the colour copiers at his job to xerox the back side of $20 bills (front side would be illegal under US law).

    He wrote in blue Sharpie on the other side “Welcome to ‘The Order of The Blue Hand’ ” and floated them face down in the chemical toilets at the northern california Ren Faire.

  11. There was a video (maybe here) a while back of a guy wandering around London trying to hand out £10 notes. People were crossing the street to avoid him.

  12. I just realized that this tree is near the Anthropologie store on Southport Ave. in Chicago — incidentally a rather affluent neighborhood on the north side. Most of people walking around that area don’t really need any more dollars, especially ones that involve paying attention to something else besides themselves and pausing for a moment. (Of course I’m stereotyping, but that’s what stereotypes are for, right?)

  13. It’s pretty clear this took place in a relatively affluent neighborhood. I think the results would have been much different had she tried this on the South Side of Chicago…

    1. The south side of Chicago you say? Why that’s the meanest part of town. If you go down there you better just beware of a man named Leeroy Brown.

  14. Some years back, I was in the Philly airport and a group of college kids taped a dollar bill to a string and tossed it into the main walking path. As with the money tree, there were three responses. A). Didn’t see it at all. B) Actively avoided the cash (change gait to walk over or go around) C). Bend over to pick it up.
    As soon as someone went for the cash, the kids yanked the string and everyone had a good laugh. After the third person went for, and didn’t get, the cash, one of the kids asked the victim, ‘What, don’t they pay you airline people enough?’. Every person who stopped to pick up the money was an airline employee. I figured they were basically in their house, were comfortable with the setting and had no issue picking up spare change.

    Second story. One time I used a clothespin to stick a dollar bill to my car radio antenna. That bill lasted for months. After it was taken, I bumped up to a $5. It was gone in a week.

  15. When I was about 9? 10? years old or so I found it amusing to throw money (coins) out of my parents 2nd story Mission flat onto the sidewalk below. Most people were irritated. (what a surprise)

    I still recall sliding the coins out the window through a long cardboard fabric tube and looking out to see the bemused Chinese Aunties picking up the bounty. . .

    Crazy glued a half-dollar to the floor of Lowell High and sat in hopes of hilarity and hi-jinks: and it was completely ignored by all until one smiling Caucasian in steel-toed boots pulled a free kick and pocketed it.

    I like this video; reaffirms my detante with human nature; but it reminds me of the time I was taking a jog by Lands End and noticing the blackberry bushes about to come into fruition; next week jogging by again: ‘where did the berries go!?’; turn the corner and a squat lady with 2(!) plastic bags had picked Every Single moderately delicious looking berry and gave me a dirty look when I gasped at her greed. . .

    I’m just pleasantly surprised nobody chopped down the whole dollar tree and re-planted it in their backyard. . .

  16. had a shop in CBD melbourne.got bored.started throwing hand fulls of change into footpath/street.people gathered,pecked for change,scurried here and there as futher handfulls were strewn.they were busy.a few jostled to get.

  17. We did this back in the 60s, but instead of doing it anonymously, we stood on street corners in hippy garb and whenever a “suit” walked by, held out a dollar to him (or her). If they passed by without taking it, we said “Hello, don’t you want a dollar”? I’d give a million bucks to have video of those times. Probably cost us a hundred bucks, but it was worth every penny.

  18. I think stuff like this just sends a clear signal of “this will be recorded for a pranking show and/or some hipster’s amusement”. Therefore, people are going to be more reluctant to take the money.

  19. liberation(!) music does not allow me to see this video in germany. i hate the music industry..
    as if that would help their broken business model..

    sorry for ranting.. :)

  20. I think stuff like this just sends a clear signal of “this will be recorded for a pranking show and/or some hipster’s amusement”. Therefore, people are going to be more reluctant to take the money.

    Exactly. Anytime I see something suspiciously unusual (‘suspiciously’ as in clearly implanted by someone) I tend to avoid getting near it. It’s the same feeling that makes me walk WAY around mimes and most people who act like statues. I admit I’m an introvert and I don’t like being suddenly dragged into some spectacle without consent.

    But this ‘money tree’ idea is cute. It’s nice that it doesn’t seek to harrass or embarrass in any way.

  21. It’s been done before in Australia with $5 (au) bills:

    rabodirect(dot)com(dot)au. Find the rest by searching.

  22. The “people would look at the money tree but they somehow weren’t able to see it” claim from the author kind of annoys me. It’s like, they’re all, “The money tree is so far out of their experience, that their minds do not comprehend, man…” but don’t realize they’re falling for the same trap, if they can’t understand any reaction other than taking the tree money.

  23. i kept thinking the location looked familiar and then i realized it is a sidewalk in chicago, southport avenue in lakeview – i have been to that kinkos/fed ex many times….

  24. I think it’s really nice that the idea was able to cause so much positive interaction amongst peeople that would have otherwise toatlly ignored each other. Sort of showing the way people react to environmental stimulants.

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