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Artist who taped banana to wall at Art Basel responds to copyright lawsuit

Maurizio Cattelan, an artist who duct taped a banana to a wall that sold for more than $390,000 at Art Basel in Miami in 2019, has responded to a copyright lawsuit filed against him by another artist who said Cattelan stole the idea for his work. Joe Morford's "Orange and Banana" is pictured left while Cattelan's "Comedian" is seen right. Photo courtesy of U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.
Maurizio Cattelan, an artist who duct taped a banana to a wall that sold for more than $390,000 at Art Basel in Miami in 2019, has responded to a copyright lawsuit filed against him by another artist who said Cattelan stole the idea for his work. Joe Morford's "Orange and Banana" is pictured left while Cattelan's "Comedian" is seen right. Photo courtesy of U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

Sept. 17 (UPI) -- Maurizio Cattelan, an artist who duct taped a banana to a wall that sold for more than $390,000 at Art Basel in Miami in 2019, has responded to a copyright lawsuit filed against him by another artist who said Cattelan stole the idea for his work.

Joe Morford, a California-based artist, filed the complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida in January 2021 alleging that Cattelan -- an Italian artist -- plagiarized the idea for his piece, titled "Comedian."

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Morford maintains a registered copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office for an artwork titled "Banana and Orange" made in 2000, which featured a banana duct taped to a green paper on a wall with an orange also duct taped above it.

The American artist claimed that images of his were available on his website, where they were seen by Cattelan, according to court documents obtained by UPI.

Cattelan's response to the lawsuit was filed last month but flew largely under the radar until it was reported by ArtNet News on Thursday.

In his response, Cattelan denied allegations from Morford that he plagiarized the idea for his artwork and said that Morford cannot prove that he had access to "Banana and Orange" before he created "Comedian."

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In July, U.S. District Judge Robert Scola Jr. denied a motion from Cattelan to dismiss the lawsuit noting that "Comedian" has a "substantial similarity to the protected elements of 'Orange and Banana."

"Morford cannot claim copyright in the idea of a banana taped to a wall," Scola wrote. "However, as discussed below, Morford may be able to claim copyright in the expression of that idea."

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