Three years ago, Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan rose to prominence with his work The Comedian. A banana taped to a wall sold for $120,000. However, Joe Morford claims that the world-famous sculptor has copied his own work and wants the case to go to trial.
Morford claims that Cattelan got the idea from his 2000 painting Banana & Orange, which shows the respective fruits glued to a green-dyed canvas.
A federal judge in Florida ruled that the case could go to trial, noting that Morford’s claims could be upheld because there were similarities between the two.
The plaintiff is seeking damages in the amount of $390,000 – this is the total amount of Cattelan’s profit for three versions of the project, plus legal fees and other expenses, writes lifo.gr.
The Italian’s work made headlines in the mainstream media and received worldwide recognition. In terms of sales, Cattelan was not selling the painting itself, but a certificate of authenticity and installation instructions for the work, including the exact angle and height at which the fruit should be attached. Since then, “The Comedian” has found its way into the Guggenheim collection in New York, thanks to an anonymous donor.
The Italian side claims that “imitators do not have valid copyrights”, but the court ruled that they could claim them in relation to the “expression of this idea” itself.
“While using silver tape to attach a banana to a wall may not be the highest degree of creativity, its absurd and farcical nature is consistent with the “minimum degree of creativity” required to be considered original,” said the judge who considered the contentious issue.