Couple who bought $120k banana duct-taped to wall say artwork will be ‘iconic’

Pair compared it to Warhol’s ‘Campbell’s Soup Cans,’ which was initially ‘met with mockery’

In this Dec. 4, 2019 photo, gallery owner Emmanuel Perrotin poses next to Italian artist Maurizio Cattlelan’s “Comedian” at the Art Basel exhibition in Miami Beach, Fla. The work sold for $120,000. (Siobhan Morrissey via AP)

In this Dec. 4, 2019 photo, gallery owner Emmanuel Perrotin poses next to Italian artist Maurizio Cattlelan’s “Comedian” at the Art Basel exhibition in Miami Beach, Fla. The work sold for $120,000. (Siobhan Morrissey via AP)

A Miami couple who bought a headline-grabbing banana duct-taped to a wall have acknowledged the absurdity of the artwork, but say they believe it will become an icon and plan to gift it to a museum.

Billy and Beatrice Cox said in a statement that they spent more than $100,000 on the “unicorn of the art world” after seeing “the public debate it sparked about art and our society.”

The conceptual artwork — “Comedian,” by Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan — was the talk of last week’s Art Basel Miami. The artist sold three editions, each in the $120,000 to $150,000 range, according to the Perrotin gallery.

“We are acutely aware of the blatant absurdity of the fact that ‘Comedian’ is an otherwise inexpensive and perishable piece of produce and a couple inches of duct tape,” the Coxes said. “Ultimately we sense that Cattelan’s banana will become an iconic historical object.”

The piece was widely parodied on social media. Kelly Ripa and Ryan Seacrest framed a bagel with a piece of duct tape over it and Brooke Shields taped a banana to her forehead, writing, “An expensive selfie,” on Instagram.

On Saturday at the art fair, Georgian-born artist David Datuna removed the latest iteration of the banana from the wall, unpeeled it and took a bite as a large crowd documented the moment with their phones.

“I respect Maurizio, but it’s art performance: Hungry artist,” said Datuna, who was not among the buyers.

The piece became such a focus of gawking that the gallery removed it Sunday for the final day to encourage viewers to see the rest of the art fair.

The Miami couple — whose purchase included a “certificate of authenticity” along with the banana and the piece of tape — said they plan to loan and later gift the work to an unspecified art institution in hopes of attracting new generations to the museum.

They plan to throw out old bananas when appropriate. “Yes … the banana itself will need to be replaced,” they said.

READ MORE: Painting given to B.C. woman as gag goes for $481,000

The couple compared the artwork to Andy Warhol’s now iconic “Campbell’s Soup Cans,” which said was initially “met with mockery.”

Critics reasoned they could easily recreate the pricey art following a quick trip to the grocery store, but the gallery said in a statement that certificates of authenticity are crucial in conceptual art.

Without one, “a piece of conceptual artwork is nothing more than its material representation.”

Kelli Kennedy, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Interior Health reported 79 new cases of COVID-19 and two new death in the region Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (Ben Hohenstatt/Juneau Empire)
79 new COVID-19 cases, two deaths reported in Interior Health

Both of Friday’s deaths were both recorded at long-term care homes

Interior Health reported 91 new COVID-19 cases in the region Jan. 20, 2021 and three additional deaths. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
95 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health, two deaths

Another member of Vernon’s Noric House has passed

A specialized RCMP team is investigating a suspicious trailer, which might have connections to the illicit drug trade, found abandoned outside a Cache Creek motel. (Photo credit: <em>Journal</em> files)
RCMP investigating suspicious trailer found abandoned in Cache Creek

Hazardous materials believed to be consistent with the production of illicit drugs were found

The trustees of the Spences Bridge Improvement District argue that one reason the EV charging station (l) should be moved is because it could compromise emergency response from the nearby fire hall. (Photo credit: Barbara Roden)
Time is running out for Spences Bridge EV charging station

Lease for the site runs out at the end of January and no new agreement has been reached

Areas in blue show properties in Cache Creek zoned C1, which the village’s Cannabis Regulatory Framework proposes as properties where retail cannabis stores could be sited. The area outlined with a dotted orange line shows a 200 metre buffer zone around Cache Creek Elementary School, within which no retail cannabis establishments could operate. (Photo credit: Village of Cache Creek)
Cache Creek council gets more input on cannabis regulations

Council considers options to regulate retail cannabis sales and production within the village

Toronto Public Health nurse Lalaine Agarin sets up for mass vaccination clinic in Toronto, Jan. 17, 2021. B.C. is set to to begin its large-scale immunization program for the general public starting in April. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
B.C.’s COVID-19 mass vaccinations expected to start in April

Clinics to immunize four million people by September

Sunnybank in Oliver. (Google Maps)
Sunnybank long-term care in Oliver reports third COVID-19 death

The facility currently has an outbreak with 35 cases attached to it

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam speaks during a daily briefing in Ottawa. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld)
31 cases of COVID-19 variants detected in Canada: Health officials

Dr. Theresa Tam made announces 13 more variant COVID-19 cases in Canada

Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops. (Dave Eagles/Kamloops This Week file photo)
COVID-19 outbreak declared at Kamloops’ Royal Inland Hospital surgical unit

Despite 6 South being a surgical unit, RIH said surgeries are continuing at the hospital

Daily COVID-19 cases reported to each B.C. health region, to Jan. 20, 2021. Island Health in blue, Northern Health green, Interior Health orange, Vancouver Coastal in red and Fraser Health in purple. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate stays stable with 508 cases Friday

Vaccine delivered to more than 110,000 high-risk people

The District of Saanich’s communications team decided to take part in a viral trend on Thursday and photoshopped U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders into a staff meeting photo. (District of Saanich/Twitter)
Bernie Sanders makes guest appearance municipal staff meeting in B.C.

Vancouver Island firefighters jump on viral trend of photoshopped U.S. senator

School District 57 headquarters in Prince George. (Mark Nielsen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter)
Prince George school district settles with sexual abuse victim

Terms were part of an out-of-court settlement reached with Michael Bruneau, nearly four years after he filed a lawsuit

Surrey provincial court. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
New COVID-19 protocols set for provincial courthouses

The new rules were issued on Jan. 21, and took effect immediately

Police in Vancouver looking for male suspect who allegedly spat and attacked a store manager for not wearing a mask, at 7-Eleven near Alma Street and West 10th Avenue just before noon on Dec. 17, 2020. (Vancouver police handout)
VIDEO: Man spits on 7-Eleven manager over mask rule, sparking Vancouver police probe

‘Unfortunately, the store manager sustained a cut to his head during the assault’

Most Read