The message, reading: “Epstien (sic) didn’t kill himself,” with an incorrect spelling of convicted sex offender’s name, references the growing controversy around his death after he was found unresponsive in his prison cell.
The decision to exhibit Cattelan’s work at a major artfair was one that was not taken lightly, Art Basel knowing all too well that the piece would attract headlines: “Maurizio’s work is not just about objects, but about how objects move through the world,” Emmanuel Perrotin said. “Whether affixed to the wall of an art fair booth or displayed on the cover of the New York Post, Maurizio forces us to question how value is placed on material goods. The spectacle, which has been orchestrated so beautifully, is as much a part of the work as the banana.”
After initially employing security guards to protect the work, a moment it was left alone a new vandal entered the gallery and write his message on the wall to the shock of visitors. In the video, the man can be heard saying: “This is the gallery where anyone can do art, right?”
After the previous issue, a spokesman for the gallery has insisted that the work had not been destroyed and, after it was eaten, the gallery simply replaced the banana with a new one. “He did not destroy the work!” a spokesman said. “The banana is the idea.”
A man who has been identified as 46-year-old Roderick Webber was arrested on charges of criminal mischief. “If someone can eat the $120,000 banana and not get arrested, why can’t I write on the wall?” he was heard saying.