epstein didn't kill himself
The gallery wall that featured the $120,000 artwork of a duct-taped banana at Art Basel Miami has been vandalized with lipstick — a day after the banana itself was eaten by an artist.

Maurizio Cattelan's Comedian was one of the most visited exhibits at the international art fair in Miami Beach last week. Two pieces quickly sold to collectors for $120,000 and a third edition will be sold to a museum after the price was raised to $150,000, Artnet reported.

The Miami Herald reported that on Sunday afternoon, the wall where the work was displayed was vandalized with the phrase "Epstien (sic) didn't kill himself" written in red lipstick.

Exhibitors later covered up the writing with a piece of white cardboard, according to the newspaper. The Perrotin gallery and Art Basel have been contacted for additional comment.

Roderick Webber, 46, was arrested on charges of criminal mischief after the vandalism was reported just before 5 p.m. on Sunday, Miami Beach Police spokesman Ernesto Rodriguez told the Herald.

"This is the gallery where anyone can do art, right?" Webber said after being confronted by a security guard, according to the newspaper.

The incident came a day after the work, presented by the Paris-based Perrotin gallery, made headlines when artist David Datuna pulled the ripe banana off the wall and ate it in full view of visitors.

Datuna, a Georgian-American artist based in New York, posted video of himself eating the banana on social media, saying it was a work of performance art titled Hungry Artist and adding that the fruit was "very delicious." The Herald reported that Datuna was led away by security but not arrested.

"If someone can eat the $120,000 banana and not get arrested, why can't I write on the wall?" Webber yelled as he was escorted out of the convention center, the Herald reported, citing a police report. The police department has been contacted for additional comment.

Sarah Medici shared a video showing the man's confrontation with security on Twitter, writing alongside it: "This guy decided to write on the banana wall LOL."

She said she had been walking through the Miami Beach Convention Center on Sunday, hoping to see Cattelan's Comedian. "When we got to the wall, it was white and empty," Medici told the Herald. "We saw this guy live-streaming... and he starts writing on the wall and I was like, 'No way, there's no way this guy is writing.'"

After Datuna ate the original banana, the Perrotin Gallery insisted the work was not destroyed because the work is conceptual. "The banana is the idea," Lucien Terras, the director of museum relations for the gallery, told the Herald.

Comment: Give us a break. These guys are so far up their own backsides it's amazing they haven't suffocated.

banana art
© Cindy Ord/Getty Images
A man takes a picture of Maurizio Cattelan's "Comedian" at Art Basel Miami 2019 at Miami Beach Convention Center on December 6, 2019 in Miami Beach, Florida.
What is actually being bought is the Certificate of Authenticity for the work. Katherine Wisniewski, a spokesperson for the Perrotin Gallery, told Newsweek: "Certificates of Authenticity are crucial in the buying and selling of conceptual art. Comedian has a COA that contains exact instructions for installation and authenticates that the work is by Maurizio Cattelan. Without a COA, a piece of conceptual artwork is nothing more than its material representation."

Comment: Exact instructions on how to duct tape a banana to the wall. How can anyone take this stuff seriously?

Medici added that visitors stared and filmed on their phones as the wall was vandalized. Some noted that the last name of Jeffrey Epstein, the billionaire pedophile who was found dead in his jail cell while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges, was spelled incorrectly.

The phrase "Epstein didn't kill himself" has popped up regularly since his death in August as conspiracy theories have swirled challenging the medical examiner's determination that Epstein took his own life and fueled by Epstein's past ties to powerful figures, including Bill Clinton, Donald Trump and Britain's Prince Andrew.

But The Associated Press reported that prosecutors have insisted there is ample evidence backing a medical examiner's determination that Epstein hanged himself, including video surveillance they say confirmed that nobody entered the area where Epstein was locked in his cell.