A Boston artist has been arrested after scrawling “Epstein didn’t kill himself” where a banana that sold for $120,000 was previously duct-taped.
Roderick Webber, 46, of Boston, Massachussets, painted the phrase “Epstein didn’t kill himself” on the wall where a banana was previously duct-taped as a work of art. The banana was hung up at the Art Basel gallery in Miami, an “art piece” created by Italian-born artist, Maurizio Cattelan, called “Comedian.” It was sold for $120,000, and then subsequently eaten in a “piece of performance art” by George Datuna.
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However, the art was not destroyed, as the banana was meant to be replaced. Lucien Terras, the director of musuem relations at the Galerie Perrotin, told the Miami Herald that “the banana is the idea.” Webber’s art was a strike back against this. “Stupid can only be fought with more stupid,” Webber wrote on Facebook. “In a world where the idea of a banana is worth $120k, it is our moral obligation to mock, ridicule and crank the nonsense up to a million.” The stunt was enjoyed by many online:
— Arianna Kaufman (@AriannaKaufman) December 9, 2019
— sacha-stephanie (@sachasteph_) December 8, 2019
As he was escorted out, Webber shouted, “If someone can eat the $120,000 banana and not get arrested, why can’t I write on the wall? This is the gallery where anyone can do art, right?”
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Webber told the Washington Examiner that he acted after becoming suspicious that Datuna and the gallery had worked together to orchestrate the eating of the banana as a publicity stunt.
It was clear to me that Maurizio and the gallery had coordinated with Datuna as a publicity stunt. So, if they allowed it, great – but if they pressed charges, it would expose them as the frauds they are. They had me arrested – so now we know who they are, and the kind of people the art world are comprised of.
He said he was held in a jail cell until 5AM the next morning, and was accused of “criminal mischief,” something he totally denied:
Honestly, I didn’t come here with the intention of doing that, but it seemed to be screaming out that what they were doing was, like, meme warfare. It’s like, art is no longer art. It’s memes. I mean, at least if we’re supposed to believe what the Perrotin gallery is pushing on us, so I would hope that’s not actually true. No meme can be any better than another meme unless those memes collide. And I felt as though, let’s jam ’em together like Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.
“Epstein didn’t kill himself,” is a popular meme online, resulting from the discrepancies in the apparent suicide of the convicted paedophile and ex-banker, Jeffrey Epstein. He apparently hung himself in his jail cell, despite being on suicide watch, at a time when the cameras were broken and the guards weren’t paying attention. The phrase spread after details came out, and people doubted the details of the official story. A Republican congressman even got in on the joke, issuing a series of tweets that spelled out the phrase in November.
This isn’t the first time that Webber has invoked the “Epstein didn’t kill himself” meme either. He tried to get himself on the ballot in New Hampshire as “Rod “EpsteinDidn’tKillHimself” Webber, but was unsuccessful in his attempt.