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Performance artist eats $163,000 banana exhibit

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MIAMI: A performance artist shook up the crowd at the Art Basel show in Miami Beach on Saturday when he grabbed a banana that had been duct-taped to a gallery wall and ate it.

The banana was, in fact, a work of art by Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan titled Comedian and sold to a French collector for US$120,000 (S$163,000).

In a video posted on his Instagram account, Mr David Datuna, who describes himself as a Georgian-born American artist, walks up to the banana and pulls it off the wall with the duct tape attached.

"Art performance ... hungry artist," he said, as he peeled the fruit and took a bite. "Thank you, very good."

A few bystanders could be heard giggling before a flustered gallery official whisked him away for questioning.

But the kerfuffle was resolved without a food fight.

"He did not destroy the art work. The banana is the idea," Mr Lucien Terras, director of museum relations for the Perrotin gallery, told the Miami Herald.

The value of the work is in the certificate of authenticity, the paper said. The banana is meant to be replaced. A replacement was taped to the wall about 15 minutes later.

"This has brought a lot of tension and attention to the booth and we are not into spectacles," Mr Terras said. "But the response has been great. It brings a smile to a lot of people's faces."

Mr Cattelan is perhaps best known for his 18-carat, fully functioning gold toilet called America. - AFP