The white wall at Art Basel Miami Beach that had a banana duct-taped on it was vandalised on Sunday afternoon, Dec. 8.
Writing in red lipstick scrawled on the wall read: “Epstien (sic) didn’t kill himself”.
Exhibitors resorted to covering up the vandalised surface with a white cardboard.
The Miami Herald reported that a security guard confronted the vandal, who was heard saying on video that captured the moment: “This is the gallery where anyone can do art, right?”
There was no mention about what happened to the banana.
Banana art evolving
The banana on the wall attracted hundreds after it sold to an art collector for S$160,000.
It is by Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan, titled “Comedian”.
The banana was eaten by a performance artist on Saturday afternoon.
The lipstick writing on the wall came a day after that.
The scene confused those in the gallery, who likely assumed it was just another performance.
Police arrested man
Miami Beach Police said the incident was reported at 4:50pm.
A man they identified as 46-year-old Roderick Webber of Massachusetts was arrested on charges of criminal mischief.
“If someone can eat the $120,000 banana and not get arrested, why can’t I write on the wall?” Webber shouted as he was escorted out of the convention center, according to a police report.
A spokesperson for Art Basel directed any questions to authorities.
A spokesperson for the gallery where the art was displayed said it is not affiliated with Webber.
The art work achieved its performance art status as the man who wrote on the wall was gawked at and recorded on video by people in the gallery.
"Epstien" is likely the misspelled last name of Jeffrey Epstein, the Palm Beach multimillionaire sex offender who was alleged to have sexually abused dozens of underage girls.
He was found dead in his jail cell.
The New York City medical examiner ruled Epstein’s death a suicide, but the finding was challenged.
Two corrections officers are facing federal charges for failing to guard Epstein the night before his body was found.