Comedian John Oliver has offered to buy a controversial banana statue that was pulled off the streets of Melbourne after being attacked by vandals
The $22,000, 1.8m tall anthropomorphic fiberglass banana was commissioned from artist Adam Stone by the City of Yarra. Stone said it was a representation of hubris and climate change.
It was erected on Rose Street, Fitzroy, and intended to slow traffic, but within weeks it had been put into indefinite storage after a strong public backlash that culminated in someone trying to decapitate it with a saw.
The artwork was paid out of a $100,000 grant from the Transport Accident Commission.
The council has refused to say whether it would ever release the statue from storage.
The mayor, Sophie Wade, said it was not prepared to part with the statue, but offered Oliver a private viewing.
“We are so excited to hear John Oliver loves our banana sculpture as much as we do, but I am sad to say the City of Yarra is not ready to part with it just yet,” she said.
On Sunday, Oliver offered to buy the statue for $10 and exchange it for a similarly sized statue of an alligator with a raised middle finger, which his production company developed as part of a proposal to replace all confederacy statues in Florida with statues of the belligerent reptile.
In addition to the alligator, which is named Herman, Oliver offered to sweeten the deal by donating $10,000 to Foodbank in Melbourne and $5,000 to Australia Zoo.
The Australia Zoo donation would be directed toward the John Oliver Koala Chlamydia Ward, which was established by actor Russell Crowe, who donated almost $80,000 that Oliver spent on various film memorabilia at Crowe’s divorce auction.
“Since the citizens of Melbourne seem to think that their money has been wasted, I might have a solution for you,” Oliver said in his show Last Week Tonight on Sunday. “I would gladly take that banana off your hands.”
Oliver said that Herman the alligator could fulfill the banana’s traffic-slowing duties.
“If you take us up on our deal, we will make those donations and, as a sweetener, send you this magnificent creature on a ship,” he said.
“And frankly, I think it would fit right in there. What could be more Australian than a dangerous animal telling anyone who comes near it to go fuck themselves. So if you take us up on our offer, this guy is yours Melbourne. You have exactly one week to get back to us. Send us your banana.”
Oliver said the “demonic fucking banana” was “simply amazing”.
“It’s basically the Cate Blanchett of banana sculptures, in that it is a hauntingly pale Australian creature with a very striking bone structure.”
Wade said the council recognized the artwork’s value.
“I would like to officially extend an invitation to John Oliver to come down under and visit Yarra,” she said. “I would be happy to take him on a tour of our wonderful city and organize a private viewing of the banana so they can get acquainted.”
“We would also like to thank everyone who has expressed concern over the banana’s wellbeing. I am pleased to advise the banana is currently recovering after the traumatic experience late last year and we will keep the community updated on how the banana is traveling.”