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

With news that Santa won’t be coming to Cottonwood Centre this year, April Blais wanted to set up a photo op with the jolly old elf in her front yard. (Submitted photo)
Chilliwack family blown away by response to Christmas light display

The Blais family has decked out their yard with holiday decor, collecting food bank donations

Abbotsford residents gather in the Clearbrook area on Monday to demonstrate against what they say is unfairt treatment by the Indian government to farmers in the Punjab region of that country. (Maan Sidhu photo)
Abbotsford residents gather to protest unfair treatment of India farmers

Locals believe new bills will devastate small farms, demand farmers be allowed to protest peacefully

An original piece of artwork by Rosie Laponder, was stolen along with various art supplies from Julie Ann’s Art and Custom Framing in Chilliwack on Nov. 28, 2020. (Submitted image)
Thieves steal original artwork, art supplies from Chilliwack store

‘It kind of makes you sick to your stomach,’ says store manager

The paraglider pilot, while attempting to free himself, dropped 30 feet and sustained serious injuries as Kent-Harrison Search and Rescue members worked quickly to extract him from the trees. They were able to get him to a waiting ambulance at the end of a nearby forest service road. (Contributed Photo/Dave Harder)
UPDATE: Rescued paraglider being treated for non-life threatening injuries

Pilot tried to self-rescue but sustained serious injuries in a 30-foot fall

Still from a video surveillance camera of a man alleged to have stolen from several people at knife-point in Chilliwack (Rosedale) early on Nov. 28, 2020. (Facebook)
UPDATE: Chilliwack man defends his family against intruder, saves neighbour while wielding hockey stick

Long list of charges for Alberta man caught following morning of crime in Chilliwack

A tongue-in-cheek message about wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 on a sign outside a church near Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection count climbs back up to 656

20 more people in hospital, active cases still rising

Mirandy Tracy, left, and Tara Kurtz are two Langley mothers who are organizing a "sick out" for Tuesday, Dec. 1 to protest COVID conditions in schools. They're calling for masks and smaller class sizes, among other things. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)
Politician, labour leader throw support behind student Sick Out day

Langley parents started the movement to keep kids home on Dec. 1 as a protest

A family emerged with a purchase at the Tannenbaum Tree Farm at 5398 252 St in Aldergrove on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020 (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)
Christmas tree season is off to an early start

People are ‘bored’ with staying home due to COVID-19 and want to decorate early, farm owner believes

A heavy police presence was on scene on Dec. 28, 2017 following the shooting death on Bates Road in Abbotsford of Alexander Blanarou, 24, of Surrey. (Abbotsford News file photo)
Three men charged with Abbotsford shooting death of Surrey man

Alexander Blanarou, 24, was killed in a rural area on Dec. 28, 2017

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
B.C. researchers launch study to test kids, young adults for COVID-19 antibodies

Kids and youth can often be asymptomatic carriers of the novel coronavirus

A convoy of seven pickup trucks, six of which were hauling boats, makes its way around the Chilliwack Law Courts on Dec. 1, 2020. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
First court date for Fraser River anglers ticketed during demonstration fishery

Convoy of trucks circled the courthouse in downtown Chilliwack Tuesday honking their support

A sign is seen this past summer outside the Yunesit’in Government office west of Williams Lake reminding visitors and members to stay safe amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Rebecca Dyok photo)
B.C. First Nation leaders await privacy commissioner decision on COVID-19 information

Release of life-saving data cannot wait, says coalition of First Nations

Most Read