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)

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

Ktunaxa, supporters celebrate protection of Qat’muk and the Jumbo valley

Speeches, acknowledgements and ceremonies mark an emotional gathering in Cranbrook

Jumbo Valley to be protected, ending decades-long dispute over proposed ski resort

Development rights permanently retired for site of proposed year-round ski resort west of Invermere

FedEx distribution centre coming to Castlegar

Development permit for ground facility before council next week.

Kootenay teams heading for curling provincials

Team Buchy and Team Nichols won the senior playdowns.

After cashing in on QB gambles, Chiefs and 49ers to clash in Super Bowl

KC beats Tennessee, San Francisco dispatches Green Bay to reach NFL title game

B.C. VIEWS: Few clouds on Horgan’s horizon

Horgan’s biggest challenge in the remainder of his term will be to keep the economy humming along

Victoria family focuses on ‘letting go, enjoying time together’ after dad gets dementia

Walter Strauss has developed an interest in music and now takes line dancing classes

B.C. forest industry grasps for hope amid seven-month strike, shutdowns, changes

Some experts say this could be worse for forestry than the 2008 financial crisis

Northern B.C. RCMP investigating alleged sexual assault in downtown Smithers

One person was transported by ambulance to hospital following RCMP investigation at Sedaz

UBC, Iranian-Canadian community create memorial scholarship in honour of victims

The Jan. 8 crash killed 176 people, including 57 Canadians

Disrespectful that Horgan won’t meet during northern B.C. tour: hereditary chief

Na’moks said he was frustrated Horgan didn’t meet with the chiefs

Most Read