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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  • dilot052
    dilot052Saturday, March 21, 2020 at 4:08 pm
    If I duct tape a 🍌 to a wall will I be rich?😂
    • kinspower10
      kinspower10Friday, April 24, 2020 at 4:38 pm
      I wonder that to. I have bananas, and duck tape!!!!
    • dilot052
      dilot052Saturday, March 21, 2020 at 4:02 pm
      • fortniteman20
        fortniteman20Thursday, March 19, 2020 at 8:23 pm
        • omg23716
          omg23716Thursday, March 19, 2020 at 8:05 pm
          120,000 for a banana seriously people but doesn't he have to pay for it like it be does
          • kyloren08
            kyloren08Tuesday, March 17, 2020 at 9:24 am
            I agree with you superman1313. Donate that amount of money to an animal shelter, or to endangered animals. Instead, he just eats it. You could go to the supermarket, and buy 6 bananas, for like a 1.50, or something like that!!!
            • dilot052
              dilot052Saturday, March 21, 2020 at 4:03 pm
              So true!
            • seventeenkpop
              seventeenkpopSunday, March 15, 2020 at 4:33 pm
              You can buy so much food with 120,000 dollars but instead you waste it on a crusty, musty, rusty banana.TSK. TSK
              • sophie16
                sophie16Friday, March 13, 2020 at 4:24 pm
                what in the world?😕😕🍌🍌
                • texasrocks88
                  texasrocks88Thursday, March 5, 2020 at 4:55 pm
                  I wonder if I made that if people would buy it for $120000😕
                  • sophie16
                    sophie16Friday, March 13, 2020 at 4:25 pm
                    but it is just a banana. they can replace it
                  • texasrocks88
                    texasrocks88Thursday, March 5, 2020 at 3:24 pm
                    $120000 for a BANANA?!?! I mean, come on guys. For something that is going to go bad in a week?!?! I would never buy that, it is a waste of money. There are people who are starving in places like India and Chile. Can't​ the people that are willing to pay that much money for a banana could pay that much money to help others.
                    • superman1313
                      superman1313Friday, March 6, 2020 at 8:24 am
                      You could help save endangered animals such as tigers with that much money! 🐯😢
                      • superman1313
                        superman1313Friday, March 6, 2020 at 8:21 am
                        Rich people like to waste money on the weirdest things for fun just because they have money!🤑
                      • deathkiss
                        deathkissWednesday, March 4, 2020 at 6:34 am
                        what happen if its rotten. why a banana that cost $120.000
                        • deathkiss
                          deathkissWednesday, March 4, 2020 at 6:35 am
                          I love fornite!!!!