Couple who paid £90,000 for notorious 'banana duct-tape artwork' speak out

The art collectors who paid $120,000 (£91,325) for the hugely controversial “Comedian” artwork – a ripe banana fixed to a wall with duct tape – have spoken out to defend their purchase. 

The work by Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan went on display at an Art Basel exhibition in Miami Beach, Florida, on 7 and 8 December. 

Three buyers paid between £90,000 and £115,000 for the limited-edition pieces. Each one came with a certificate of authenticity and replacement instructions. 

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Speaking to Page Six, Billy and Beatrice Cox said they were “acutely aware of the blatant absurdity of the fact that ‘Comedian’ is an otherwise inexpensive and perishable piece of produce and a couple of inches of duct tape”. 

“When we saw the public debate [the piece] sparked about art and our society, we decided to purchase it,” they said in a joint statement. “We knew we were taking a risk, but ultimately we sense that Cattelan’s banana will become an iconic historical object.”

They said the work appealed to them because “people who usually would not have been so interested in art wanted to see ‘the banana’. It has opened the floodgates and morphed into an important debate about the value we place on works of art and objects in general.”

The Coxes compared the piece to Andy Warhol‘s Campbell Soup Cans, pointing out that people laughed at that work, too, when it first emerged. 

“We see the piece as a unicorn of the art world, and bought it to ensure that it would be accessible to the public forever, to fuel debate and provoke thoughts and emotion in a public space in perpetuity”. 

The banana will apparently be replaced once every two days “when it’s ripe”. 

As well as causing a stir in its own right, the banana artwork became the subject of sabotage when it was eaten by performance artist David Datuna. Another performance artist, Rod Webber, spray-painted “Epstein didn’t kill himself” across the bare wall in the gallery where the banana had been displayed.

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