Artist Cashes In Big Time With ... Bananas Taped to Wall

2 of Maurizio Cattelan's creations have gone for $120K each; a third is set at $150K
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 6, 2019 11:30 AM CST

For everyone who's ever dreamed of hitting it big, file this story out of Florida in the "why didn't we think of this" catalog. Artnet reports on a piece called "Comedian," by known prankster-artist Maurizio Cattelan, on display at the Art Basel Miami Beach show and sold by Perrotin, the gallery owned by Emmanuel Perrotin. What the piece entails: a banana duct-taped to the wall. Two editions of it have already sold for fix figures and a third is generating interest. And it's no joke, Perrotin insists. "Every aspect of the work was carefully considered, from the shape of the fruit, to the angle [it's] been affixed with duct tape to the wall, to its placement in the booth—front and center, on a large wall that could have easily fit a much larger painting," he tells Artnet. More on what one spectator excitedly proclaimed was "best of show":

  • Ties to a major publication: New York Magazine explains it's partly to blame for Catellan's entry, as it had asked him and other artists to come up with cover-worthy art concepts for its 50th anniversary. Catellan says he was "trying to imagine something to symbolize my love of New York, and it was difficult." Then: "I thought somehow the banana was something that now you can find at every street corner. ... For sure an eggplant, say, would not have been so effective." As for the duct tape, he says it holds together the pipes in his apartment, a common New York thing.
  • Why real bananas? In a release cited by Newsweek, Perrotin explains that Cattelan tried different models in resin, bronze, and painted bronze, but then finally decided on using the real deal he would hang on a wall for inspiration. "One day I woke up and I said, 'The banana is supposed to be a banana,'" Cattelan tells Artnet.
  • How much? Two of the banana pieces have already sold for $120,000 each, with a third's price set at $150,000, per CNN. Who would buy such a thing? Artnet says a Frenchman and a Frenchwoman separately made the buys. Perrotin and Cattelan have agreed they want the third banana to go to a museum.

  • Reax: Those who've caught wind of Cattelan's latest are filled with befuddlement and contempt, among other feelings. MarketWatch's take: It's "the perfect picture of wealth inequality."
  • An obvious question: What happens if a banana starts to decay? While Cattelan himself hasn't provided direction on that particular conundrum, Perrotin has plans to toss the one on display at the end of the week, though any eventual buyer is welcome to it. The Miami Herald simply states, "Owners can replace the banana, as needed."
  • Garbage-picker caveat: If you're planning on hovering near the gallery's dumpster, waiting to scoop up any discarded bananas from Cattelan's creations, or of subtly peeling off the tape and lifting the displayed banana, consider a new plan. Per the Robb Report, Perrotin says individual bananas are worthless without a certificate of authenticity: "If you don't sell the work, it's not a work of art."
(More strange stuff stories.)

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