Banana Duct-Taped to Wall Sells for Six Figures at Art Basel Miami (UPDATE)

The piece, titled 'Comedian,' was created by Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan.


Image via Getty/Cindy Ord


UPDATED 12/7, 5:22 p.m. ET: Someone ate the banana.

On Saturday, New York-based artist David Datuna was spotted at the Perrotin gallery at Art Basel Miami, where he removed the $120,000 piece of fruit from the wall, peeled it, and then took several bites. Datuna told onlookers that the stunt was a piece of performance art titled, Hungry Artist.

According to the Miami Herald, the fact that Datuna consumed the banana does not affect the value of the piece, as the its value is rooted in the concept rather than the actual piece of fruit. Furthermore, the buyers of the work, titled Comedian, received a certificate of authenticity that proves they own the $120,000 idea. 

Gallery owner Emmanuel Perrotin immediately returned to the space after he was informed about the "performance art." The Miami Herald reports Perrotin was "clearly upset," but quickly replaced the banana with the help of an assistant.

The gallery reported the incident to police, but Datuna was not arrested.

See original story below.

Maurizio Cattelan has done it again. Known for his provocative and humorous work, the Italian artist has presented one of the most-talked about pieces at this year's Art Basel Miami: a banana duct-tape to a large, white wall. That's it. Nothing else.

The work itself prompted a lot of head-scratching—not only for its deceptively simplistic concept, but because of its insane price. The piece, aptly titled Comedian, was listed at $120,000. Now you might be thinking: Who on this green earth would shell out six figures for a banana that was reportedly sourced from a Miami supermarket? Well, according to Artnet, the French would.

The Comedian was sold to a French woman by Paris-based gallery Perrotin. A second edition was sold shortly after to a French man for the same price. The gallery owner Emmanuel Perrotin told Artnet he and Cattelan have also agreed to sell a third edition to a museum for $150,000. 

Naturally, the piece was met with mixed reactions, with some theorizing it was just a big joke. But Perrotin told the outlet that a lot of thought went into the Comedian, as Cattelan carefully considered "the shape of the fruit, to the angle it's been affixed with duct tape to the wall, to its placement in the booth."

Cattelan, who was also behind the solid gold toilet once displayed at the Guggenheim, said he had worked on the piece for about a year, believing it would eventually evolve into something more.

"Wherever I was traveling I had this banana on the wall. I couldn’t figure out how to finish it," Cattelan told Sarah Cascone of Artnet. "In the end, one day I woke up and I said 'the banana is supposed to be a banana.'"

The artist went on to say he decided to show the piece at Art Basel because he felt it would stand out among the sea of paintings.

"I thought maybe a banana could be a good contribution," he said, before acknowledging that the piece wouldn't have much artistic value if it had not sold. "A work like that...if you don't sell the work, it's not a work of art."

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