Banana sold for $183,000 eaten at Art Basel in Miami

A performance artist has consumed one expensive snack, gobbling down a banana with a price tag of NZ$183,100.

The banana in question had been duct-taped to a wall at the international art fair, Art Basel, in Miami Beach - the fruit and its single strip of tape selling to a collector for US$120,000.

Yet the banana that captured the attention of the world is no longer, consumed by New York-based performance artist David Datuna on Saturday afternoon (US time) in front of a crowd of passionate art fans.

Although the famous fruit is now nothing more than a 100-calorie addition to Datuna's energy expenditure, its fall from grace has not compromised the value of the six-figure artwork.

"[Datuna] did not destroy the artwork. The banana is the idea," said Lucien Terras, the director of museum relations for the artwork's host, Galerie Perrotin.

In other words, collectors are interested in the art's Certificate of Authenticity rather than the banana itself.

The work, titled 'Comedian', was created by "art world prankster" and Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan. The owner of the artwork can replace the expendable fruit as and when required - but the certificate remains.

Potential buyers do not receive instructions on what to do when the banana decomposes.

"This has brought a lot of tension and attention to the booth and we're not into spectacles," Terras said.

"But the response has been great. It brings a smile to a lot of people's faces."

According to the Miami Herald, gallery owner Emmanuel Perrotin was not pleased to hear the banana had been eaten. But all's well that ends well, as Perrotin was quickly handed a substitute banana to adhere to the wall.

Perrotin has defended the controversial piece, saying every aspect of the work was considered - from the shape of the banana to the angle it's affixed on the wall.

On Saturday afternoon, a rope line was installed by Perrotin in an attempt to control the crowds hoping to catch a glimpse of the fruit. Four Miami Beach police officers attended the gallery to maintain order.

The gallery reported the incident to security but Datuna was not arrested for his shenanigans.

Two editions of Cattelan's 'Comedian' have sold to collectors. According to art market website Artnet, the third is expected to be snatched up for US$150,000 (NZ$228,870).