Hungry Visitor Eats $120,000 Banana "Sculpture" At Miami's Art Basel


Emmanuel Perrotin shows off "Comedian," the first piece by Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan in 15 years (Credit: Perrotin Gallery)

On December 7, 2019, David Datuna was admiring the modern and contemporary works of art on display from 200 of the world's leading galleries at Miami's Art Basel, when hunger pangs hit. Fortunately for the New York-based artist, there was a ripe banana just waiting to be eaten. The only problem? The tropical fruit stuck to the wall with duct tape was no ordinary banana — it was an art installation that had just been sold by Perrotin, an international art gallery, for $120,000!

Aptly titled Comedian, the "sculpture" is the first new work debuted by renowned Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan in 15 years. Gallery owner Emmanuel Perrotin, charged with selling three editions of the masterpiece and two artist's proofs —each featuring a single banana — says it offers insights into how we value objects. Cattelan, who often hangs the tropical fruit in his hotel room for inspiration, initially thought of crafting a banana using resin or bronze, but then decided the real fruit would better represent his message.

New York-based artist David Datuna stunned the world by eating the $120,000 banana (Credit: David Datuna/Instagram)

The art installation's impressive pedigree, or high price, did not seem to intimidate Datuna. In videos filmed by the stunned and bemused bystanders, the artist is seen calmly ripping the banana off the wall and savoring it, while explaining the act as an "art performance by a hungry artist."

When asked about his action by Peggy Leboeuf, a partner at Perrotin Gallery, who arrived at the scene just as Datuna was finishing his final bite, he replied, "I am [a] performance artist." A frustrated-sounding Leboeuf is heard responding, "But you are not supposed to touch the art." Upon hearing about the incident, Perrotin, who had been on his way to the airport, darted back to see the space where the art had once stood. Fortunately, a visitor offered the gallery owners a banana he had brought to snack on, and by 2:00 pm, just a short 15 minutes after Datuna's stunt, the fruit had been re-adhered, restoring the masterpiece to its former glory.

However, the hilarious incident drew so many people to see Comedian that it had to be removed from display on December 8, 2019, the final day of the exhibit. According to the gallery, “The installation caused several uncontrollable crowd movements, and the placement of the work on our booth compromised the safety of the artworks around us, including that of our neighbors." Fortunately for fans, Perrotin, who has sold all three editions of Comedian for between $120,000 to $150,000 each, announced that the latest buyer plans to donate his copy to a museum.

Perrotin Gallery has sold three editions of "Comedian" (Credit: Perrotin Gallery)

Lucien Terras, director of museum relations at Perrotin, later explained that consuming the banana did not diminish the integrity of the $120,000 artwork. “He [Datuna] did not destroy the artwork. The banana is the idea,” he explained. The spokesperson says the value of the masterpiece is not in the fruit, but in the certificate of authenticity, which includes exact instructions for its installation and confirms the work is by Cattelan. “Without a certificate, a conceptual artwork is nothing more than its material representation," he said.

Though Datuna will not reveal his motive for eating the banana, the artist — best known for his unique artworks depicting political leaders, celebrities, flags, and cult objects — insists it was not for publicity. “I do many installations around the world. I have enough publicity," he said. As to what he thought of the expensive fruit? In an interview with MarketWatch, the artist quipped, “Its taste was delicious — not like $120,000, but it was really good.”

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  • ginnyweasly1
    ginnyweasly1Sunday, May 24, 2020 at 6:10 pm
    Why would he eat that?! It was clearly taped to the wall for a reason! Like or follow if you agree!
    • 385248
      385248Friday, May 22, 2020 at 8:28 pm
      He must have been super hungry😀
      • gigilover
        gigiloverMonday, May 18, 2020 at 7:00 pm
        I can make a famous art piece with NOT a banana/ duct tape but a orange/ duct tape lol
        • aybraheem
          aybraheemThursday, May 14, 2020 at 11:53 am
          This guy is a monkey
          • weirdo_potato
            weirdo_potatoMonday, May 11, 2020 at 1:41 pm
            so if I tape a banana on a wall I would be rich ?
            • gymdancecheer
              gymdancecheerSaturday, May 30, 2020 at 10:49 am
              Uhhh I don't think so?
            • g0d0fc00kies
              g0d0fc00kiesSaturday, May 9, 2020 at 6:22 pm
              wow I cant believe he just took the banana
              • polly254
                polly254Friday, May 1, 2020 at 1:57 pm
                That guy was so hilarious he acted like it was now big deal by saying it tasted good not 120,000 but good I can't believe him I mean yeah bananas taste good but If you eat a art exhibits art it's like your stealing the mona lisa.
                • c01e
                  c01eMonday, April 27, 2020 at 10:12 am
                  Cant think of what that'll do to his stomach or the exhibit !
                  • william3571
                    william3571Monday, April 27, 2020 at 7:51 am
                    🤔😐 who would buy a banana for 120,000 you could buy a small house with that.🍌
                    • aj231561
                      aj231561Monday, April 27, 2020 at 9:55 am
                      you cant buy a small house with that-you would be able to buy a very big house
                    • horsepower
                      horsepowerSaturday, March 21, 2020 at 8:21 pm