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The $120,000 Art Basel Banana, Explained
So, uh, whose banana is it?
Art Basel Banana is catchy, but it’s not actually the work’s name. Titled Comedian, it’s by Maurizio Cattelan. Cattelan is an Italian artist and an absurdist—in 2016 he replaced a toilet at the Guggenheim with a fully functioning gold one. He called the artwork America.

So, uh, whose banana is it?
Art Basel Banana is catchy, but it’s not actually the work’s name. Titled Comedian, it’s by Maurizio Cattelan. Cattelan is an Italian artist and an absurdist—in 2016 he replaced a toilet at the Guggenheim with a fully functioning gold one. He called the artwork America.

Did anyone buy it?
Yes—three buyers, in fact. It’s reported two editions went for $120,000 before the price was raised to $150,000.

How could three people buy the banana?
In this case, you aren’t actually buying the work itself—it’s a banana. It’s going to rot. What are you buying, then? The certificate of art. Essentially you bought the idea rather than the object.
When the banana goes bad, the owner can replace it, according to the artist’s instructions. It will still be considered a Cattelan.

I just want to learn what happened next.
On Saturday, when the fair was at its most crowded, a man came up and ate the banana. Real casual like. Just went up, grabbed the fruit off the wall, and took a big bite.
It wasn’t some random passerby but performance artist David Datuna. He explained his actions on Instagram: “Art performance by me. I love Maurizio Cattelan artwork and I really love this installation. It’s very delicious.” But also: “Conceptually, I ate the concept of the banana.”

A man ate the $120,000 Art Basel banana — and didn’t think it tasted that rich: ‘Its taste was delicious — not like $120,000, but it was really good’
But the gallery wasn’t laughing. The Miami Herald reported that gallery owner Emmanuel Perrotin was about to head to the airport when he heard that the banana was eaten, and he returned to the Galerie Perrotin “clearly upset.” A guest volunteered their own banana as a replacement, which was eventually affixed to the wall where the original had been. (Neither Perrotin nor Cattelan were immediately available for comment. A spokeswoman for Cattelan told NBC News that the artist is not seeking any criminal or civil action against Datuna.)

Someone ate a $120,000 banana that an artist had taped to a wall
Entitled “Comedian,” the artwork comprised a banana bought in a Miami grocery store, and a single piece of duct tape. The gallery behind the sale, Galerie Perrotin, said there were three editions, and that two had already sold for around $120,000.

Organizers had previously confirmed to CNN that the banana can be replaced if needed, as the artist’s instructions for the work are “intentionally imprecise.” But in a statement Sunday, the gallery announced that the installation had been removed altogether amid public safety concerns.

“Art Basel collaboratively worked with us to station guards and create uniform lines,” it read. “However, the installation caused several uncontrollable crowd movements and the placement of the work on our booth compromised the safety of the artwork around us, including that of our neighbors.”

An Instagram account set up for the artwork also posted a video showing gallery founder, Emmanuel Perrotin, removing a banana from the wall and eating it himself. “Maurizio, it’s a good banana, I have to say,” he is filmed saying.

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Image courtesy Rhona Wise / EPA-EFE / Shutterstock

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