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The World Has Gone Bananas

Image via Waldemar Brandt on Unsplash

The retail price of one pound of bananas in the United States was 58 cents in 2018. Right now, you can order one banana on Walmart's website for 18 cents. You can also order one roll of 3M Multi-Use Duct Tape for $4.99 on Amazon. Why the hell would you want a banana and duct tape?

Apparently, because duct-taping a banana to a wall is all the rage in the world of high-end art. This may sound like something out of The Onion, but this week at Art Basel Miami Beach, a banana duct-taped to a wall sold for $120,000. Even worse, a second banana duct-taped to a wall sold for $120,000. Yet even worse than that, a third banana duct-taped to a wall is expected to sell for $150,000 because...art.

Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan is the artist behind the banana, which was "sourced from a local Miami supermarket," that is aptly named "Comedian." The first two "editions" of the banana duct-taped to a wall reportedly sold to two different French buyers. A third "edition" of the banana duct-taped to a wall already had two institutions express interest, according to the gallery handling the sale, Perrotin.

Despite Cattelan being known as an "art world prankster," the gallery said the piece is not a joke. "Every aspect of the work was carefully considered, from the shape of the fruit, to the angle its been affixed with duct tape to the wall," said Perrotin. In a sign of how those who are privy to the world of fine art will say anything to sound sophisticated, one attendee said "It’s best of show!"

Cattelan worked on the idea for "Comedian" for about a year, creating versions in both bronze and resin. "Wherever I was traveling I had this banana on the wall. I couldn’t figure out how to finish it," Cattelan said. Finally, Cattelan had an epiphany, saying "In the end, one day I woke up and I said 'the banana is supposed to be a banana.'"

The price was determined by coming up with an "insignificant number that would trivialize the work, and an outlandish one that would be completely ridiculous." So what's stopping everyone from selling a duct-taped banana to a wall for $120,000? Perrotin said "Without the artist’s certificate of authenticity, it reverts to being just a banana."

So while this could be an actual sale, money laundering, a prank, PR move or anything else, it's a reminder of how some people have more money than brains. Either way, it provided a good laugh for those who are not fortunate enough to drop $120,000 on a banana duct-taped to a wall.

Leftover Crumbs

  • They've had over a year to come to an agreement. In the latest news from the never-ending trade war, the U.S. and China reportedly cannot agree on the amount of agricultural purchases China will make. U.S. President Donald Trump wants China, which purchased $8.6 billion in agricultural purchases last year, to buy $40-$50 billion per year under the deal. Ironically, it was December 1 of last year when the White House released a statement saying "China will agree to purchase a not yet agreed upon, but very substantial, amount of agricultural...product." This is just the latest blow to American farmers, who are still not seeing the benefits of a trade deal that have been promised to them for over a year.

  • Sounds like a steal. Saudi Arabian oil giant Saudi Aramco has priced its IPO at the upper end of its range, giving the company a $1.7 trillion valuation. The valuation will make Aramco the most valuable company in the world, well above Apple's $1.1 trillion market capitalization. By raising $25.6 billion in proceeds from the IPO, it will also surpass Alibaba as the largest IPO ever. Saudi officials haven't said if Aramco, which is set to be listed later this month on the Riyadh stock exchange, will be listed on other exchanges.   

  • Don't dip your pen in the company ink. Mark Wiseman, who was global head of active equities at BlackRock, is leaving the firm after violating the "relationships at work policy." Wiseman was reportedly on a short list of candidates to eventually take over as CEO of BlackRock, the world's largest asset manager, when current CEO Larry Fink retires. An internal memo read "When the firm becomes aware of a breach of policy or conduct that is not in line with our values, we move quickly and decisively to address it."  

  • This sounds like something from The Onion as well. As Tesla CEO Elon Musk's defamation trial continues, his lawyers demanded the British diver he called "pedo guy" apologize for "attacking" Musk. Vernon Unsworth, who called Musk's offer of a submarine to help the trapped soccer team a "PR stunt," said "My insult was to the tube and not to Mr. Musk personally." "I’m not sure how I need to apologize,” Unsworth said. "It was my opinion at the time, and I stand by that opinion."

  • More bad news for Uber. An Uber safety report released yesterday revealed more than 3,000 sexual assault cases were reported in Uber rides throughout the U.S. in 2018. The report cited 229 reported rapes, nine murders and 58 people killed in crashes during 1.3 billion trips in the U.S. "I suspect many people will be surprised at how rare these incidents are; others will understandably think they’re still too common," Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said.