MIAMI (CBSMiami/AP) – Arguably one of the most talked-about works of art at Miami’s Art Basel in December was a banana duct-taped to a wall that sold for $120,000. Then came the performance artist who plucked the banana off the wall and ate it. That was followed by the guy who was charged with criminal mischief because he scrawled a blood-red message about sex offender Jeffrey Epstein on the empty wall. So what now?
That criminal mischief charge against Rod Webber has been dropped. Webber walked out of a Miami courthouse Thursday and declared victory as he took a bite out of a banana, peel and all.
“Art has prevailed. We’re out of court. Case has been dismissed,” Webber posted in a video on Instagram, referring to the criminal mischief charge.
The charge was dropped because “Art Basel did not want to proceed with the charges,” according to the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office adding, “They did not suffer any damage to their walls and did not have any cleaning fees. We could not proceed without their testimony.”
Webber was charged in December when he wrote in lipstick, “Epstien didn’t kill himself,” on the blank wall, a misspelled reference to theories about the death of accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein.
The duct-taped banana, by artist Maurizio Cattelan, made international headlines during Miami’s Art Basel. He actually made three editions of spotty bananas duct-taped to a wall, which sold in the $120,000-$150,000 range, according to the Perrotin gallery.
The artwork was widely parodied on social media.
Performance artist David Datuna, removed the banana from the wall, unpeeled it and took a bite as a large crowd documented it with their phones.
And later, Webber scrawled on the wall, which led to the criminal mischief charge.
Webber also created T-shirts with the same message, which he wore at court on Thursday, along with a black ‘X’ on his cheek.
“They had nothing because I did nothing wrong … unlike Mr. Epstein,” he posted, saying prosecutors would have to prove malice or ill intent. He said he was just creating more art.
The state attorney’s office did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.
A New York medical examiner ruled Epstein’s death a suicide, but conspiracy theories have flourished.
(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)