‘An Icon of Our Time’: An Artist Is Selling a $2.9 Million Solid-Gold Avocado Toast at Berlin Art Week
Sep 14, 2021
If you thought $14 was an expensive price for avocado toast at your local cafe, how about $2.9 million (€2.5 million)?
That’s the cost of German artist Tim Bengel’s Who Wants to Live Forever?, a pure gold sculpture cast from an avocado on a bagel.
The artwork, which scans as a mash-up of Maurizio Cattelan’s gold toilet (America ) and duct-taped banana (Comedian ), is up for sale now, via Galerie Rother. The piece will make its public debut tomorrow for Berlin Art Week, going on view at a local restaurant, the aptly-named Avocado Club.
The goal of Who Wants to Live Forever?, Bengel explained in a press release, was to “freeze the zeitgeist.” For him, avocados exist as a status symbol at the crossroads of several trends: millennial indulgence, the clean eating boom, and the global fruit industry’s impact on the environment.
Artist Tim Bengel with his sculpture. Courtesy of the artist.
He sees an analogy between his creation and the Greek myth of King Midas, who was granted his wish to turn anything into gold with a single touch, only to later die from starvation. “Something similar is happening today in turbo-capitalism,” Bengel’s press release reads, “which, in its greed for profit maximization, is destroying its own participants.”
To make the piece, the 29-year-old artist 3D-scanned 27 different pieces of his lunch: five avocado wedges, tomato slices, and onion rings; 10 arugula leaves; and two halves of pumpkin bagel. He then cast each piece in 18-carat gold and reassembled them as a sandwich.
Altogether, the object weighs more than 26 pounds—which is roughly equivalent to an adult Corgi (albeit with a fraction of the charm). Galerie Rother even designed a specialized case to display the thing, which alone cost $47,000 (€40,000), according to German newspaper Stuttgart News.
In a statement, dealer Christian Rother said he believes the work could become “an icon of our time.”
“[The sculpture] will hopefully make big waves like the shredded Banksy or the diamond-covered skull by Damien Hirst,” Bengel told the news outlet.
The young artist first rose to fame around 2017, when his meticulous paintings, made by gluing gold leaf and colored sand to canvases, went viral online. For Berlin Art Week in 2019, he built an ominous skull-shaped garden from heather shrubs and marble gravestones.
Bengel’s avocado sculpture will make its way stateside later this year, arriving for Miami Art Week in December.