The $120,000 Banana Taped to a Wall Art Work Has Just Been Eaten by a 'Hungry Artist'—'It's Very Delicious'

A banana duct-taped to a wall that sold for $120,000 at Art Basel Miami was eaten by an artist who described it as "delicious."

Maurizio Cattelan's Comedian was one of the most talked about works of the international art fair in Miami Beach this week. Artnet reported that two pieces of the artwork quickly sold to collectors for $120,000. Then, the Perrotin gallery which presented the work raised the price to $150,000 for the third piece, which will be sold to a museum.

But on Saturday afternoon, David Datuna walked up to the Italian artist's work, pulled the ripe banana off the wall and ate it in full view of visitors. Datuna, a Georgian-American artist based in New York, posted video of himself eating the banana on social media, saying it was a work of performance art titled Hungry Artist.

"It's very delicious," Datuna said in captions on Facebook and Instagram. "I love Maurizio Cattelan artwork and I really love this installation," he added. Datuna and Cattelan have been contacted for comment.

Cattelan previously said he wasn't concerned about the banana used in Comedian being stolen. According to Artnet, a spare banana is kept on hand—and without the artist's certificate of authenticity, it is just a banana. "A work like that, if you don't sell the work, it's not a work of art," Cattelan told Artnet.

Miami Herald reported that gallery owner Emmanuel Perrotin had been about to leave for the airport when he was notified of the incident. The newspaper reported that a visitor handed Perrotin another banana in a bid to cheer him up—and that banana was then taped to the wall to replace the one Datuna ate. Perrotin has been contacted for comment.

But while the original banana is gone, the artwork has not been destroyed, Lucien Terras, the director of museum relations for the Paris-based contemporary art gallery, insisted. "He did not destroy the art work. The banana is the idea," Terras told the Herald.

According to the Herald, that's because what buyers of the artwork are actually purchasing is a Certificate of Authenticity that comes with it. Owners are told they can replace the banana when needed.

Katherine Wisniewski, a spokesperson for the Perrotin gallery, told Newsweek: "Certificates of Authenticity are crucial in the buying and selling of conceptual art. 'Comedian' has a COA that contains exact instructions for installation and authenticates that the work is by Maurizio Cattelan. Without a COA, a piece of conceptual artwork is nothing more than its material representation."

After eating the banana, Datuna told the New York Post: "I can eat the banana and the concept of the banana—because I am an artist and not a regular human." He added: "Maurizio Cattelan, I love him. One artist eats another. It's fun."

Peggy Leboeuf, a partner at the Perrotin gallery, told the Herald that a woman in the crowd had thought it was Cattelan eating his own artwork and when she realized it wasn't, she told Datuna: "But you're not supposed to touch the art!"

According to the Herald, Datuna was taken away from the scene by security, but he was not arrested. The BBC reported that police were later sent to guard the replacement banana. Art Basel and Miami Police have been contacted for comment.

This article has been updated with a statement from the Perrotin gallery.

Banana duct-taped to wall.
Maurizio Cattelan's "Comedian," which features a banana duct-taped to a wall, at Art Basel Miami. Courtesy of Art Basel
The $120,000 Banana Taped to a Wall Art Work Has Just Been Eaten by a 'Hungry Artist'—'It's Very Delicious' | U.S.