It was the duct-taped banana that launched a thousand memes. Galerie Perrotin could have hardly anticipated the furor that would erupt over the course of four days at Art Basel Miami Beach last month, sparked by the debut of Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan’s first new ‘sculpture’ at a fair in more than 15 years.

The seemingly innocuous artwork – titled Comedian – barely caused a stir among collectors who descended on the Miami Beach Convention Center during preview day. After all, this was a clique hardened to the most outré of artist stunts (Banksy’s shredded painting, anyone?) Local media, however, soon picked up that a humble banana was being hawked for $120,000, in an edition of three no less.

Comedian, 2019, by Maurizio Cattelan, at Perrotin’s Art Basel Miami Beach booth. Photography: Jessica Klingelfuss

Everyone had an opinion. Team Wallpaper* encountered bootleg versions of the banana at every turn, from satellite art fairs to the street. Artnet published six stories about the banana (and then another rounding up said coverage). It was the most-talked about artwork at Miami and arguably of 2019, eventually spawning its own Instagram account.

By Friday, fairgoers were queuing to get a selfie with the now-infamous perishable fruit. On Saturday, New York-based artist David Datuna helped himself to the banana, peeling it off the wall and devouring it in seconds. (The gallery swiftly manned the replacement work with a burly security guard.) Come Sunday morning, Comedian had been removed entirely with Perrotin citing safety concerns in a statement. #Bananagate had run its course – or so we thought.

Perrotin today announced it is harnessing the viral sensation for a worthy cause, teaming up with Cattelan to release Comedian t-shirts at the gallery’s New York bookstore on the Lower East Side. Profits from each sale will benefit Feeding South Florida, a hunger-relief organisation serving Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade and Monroe counties. ‘Feeding South Florida is a small, but mighty organisation that fights hunger all across South Florida. For every $1 donated, the organisation provides 7 meals. I am proud to partner with them and I hope you will join me in supporting this worthy cause,’ says gallerist Emmanuel Perrotin.

Available from 25 January and priced at $25 each, the t-shirts are also available for pre-order via Perrotin’s online store, to be shipped from the gallery’s Paris location. It’s 2020, and we’re still talking about Cattelan’s Comedian. Bananas. §