Buyers of Maurizio Cattelan’s $120,000 Banana Defend the Work as ‘the Unicorn of the Art World,’ Comparing It to Warhol’s Soup Cans

Still, two of the new owners are aware of the 'blatant absurdity' at the heart of the work.

Maurizio Cattelan's Comedian, for sale from Perrotin at Art Basel Miami Beach. Photo by Sarah Cascone.

The banana that sparked a deluge of think pieces and media hype at Art Basel Miami Beach last week shows no signs of slowing down. And those who dropped around $120,000 on their purchase of an edition of Marizio Cattelan’s Comedian—which is, as everyone now knows, a banana duct-taped to a wall—are now stepping forward to defend their purchases.

Billy and Beatrice Cox of Miami, Florida released a statement to Page Six on their acquisition, calling the work “the unicorn of the art world” and comparing it to Andy Warhol’s iconic 1962 Campbell’s Soup Cans. The couple also shared their intention to loan and eventually donate the artwork to a museum.

“When we saw the public debate Comedian sparked about art and our society, we decided to purchase it,” the pair said. “We 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.” 

They also specified plans to replace the fruit every two days in order to keep it “ripe,” although they are “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.”

Though the item itself is perpetually under threat of decomposition, Emmanuel Perrotin, founder of the gallery selling Cattelan’s work, emphasized to the New York Times that the real value of the work lies in the certificate of authenticity, which includes a manual for installation. “All artwork costs a lot of money,” Perrotin said. “They buy an idea, they buy a certificate.”

Billy Cox is a member of the Bancroft family, which in 2007 reportedly sold its shares of Dow Jones & Company, publishers of the Wall Street Journal, to News Corp. for over $5 billion. He and his wife are described as having been collecting art for over two decades.

Sarah Andelman, the Paris-based founder of Colette, is the collector who snapped up the first edition of the work, which is also her first major art purchase. In tune with Perrotin’s words, she says she will hang the certificate of authenticity in her office. Whether it will be displayed next to the banana itself is still up in the air.

“People who usually would not have been so interested in art wanted to see ‘the banana,’” the Coxes went on to say. “It has opened the floodgates and morphed into an important debate about the value we place on works of art and objects in general.” 

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