The retail price of one pound of bananas in the United States was 58 cents in 2018. Right now, you can order one banana on Walmart's website for 18 cents. You can also order one roll of 3M Multi-Use Duct Tape for $4.99 on Amazon. Why the hell would you want a banana and duct tape?
Apparently, because duct-taping a banana to a wall is all the rage in the world of high-end art. This may sound like something out of The Onion, but this week at Art Basel Miami Beach, a banana duct-taped to a wall sold for $120,000. Even worse, a second banana duct-taped to a wall sold for $120,000. Yet even worse than that, a third banana duct-taped to a wall is expected to sell for $150,000 because...art.
Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan is the artist behind the banana, which was "sourced from a local Miami supermarket," that is aptly named "Comedian." The first two "editions" of the banana duct-taped to a wall reportedly sold to two different French buyers. A third "edition" of the banana duct-taped to a wall already had two institutions express interest, according to the gallery handling the sale, Perrotin.
Despite Cattelan being known as an "art world prankster," the gallery said the piece is not a joke. "Every aspect of the work was carefully considered, from the shape of the fruit, to the angle its been affixed with duct tape to the wall," said Perrotin. In a sign of how those who are privy to the world of fine art will say anything to sound sophisticated, one attendee said "It's best of show!"
Cattelan worked on the idea for "Comedian" for about a year, creating versions in both bronze and resin. "Wherever I was traveling I had this banana on the wall. I couldn't figure out how to finish it," Cattelan said. Finally, Cattelan had an epiphany, saying "In the end, one day I woke up and I said 'the banana is supposed to be a banana.'"
The price was determined by coming up with an "insignificant number that would trivialize the work, and an outlandish one that would be completely ridiculous." So what's stopping everyone from selling a duct-taped banana to a wall for $120,000? Perrotin said "Without the artist's certificate of authenticity, it reverts to being just a banana."
So while this could be an actual sale, money laundering, a prank, PR move or anything else, it's a reminder of how some people have more money than brains. Either way, it provided a good laugh for those who are not fortunate enough to drop $120,000 on a banana duct-taped to a wall.