Spread the love

Michel Bernardaud and Jeff Koons attend Balloon Dog Blue 2021 By Jeff Koons & Bernardaud

Jared Siskin/Getty Images

Disaster struck in Florida last Thursday (16 February), when a bright blue Jeff Koons Dog Balloon sculpture worth $42,000 (£34,890) was smashed. The shocking incident happened at an exclusive art event in Miami known as Art Wynwood. According to reports in the Miami Herald, an art-collector ‘tapped the sculpture because she was curious if it was a real balloon’, before it plummeted to the ground and smashed. 

The sculpture, which was only 40cm tall, had been standing on an acrylic pedestal emblazoned with Koons’ name. It was part of a limited edition, 799 piece collection, which has now been reduced to 798 pieces.

‘When this thing fell to the ground, it was like how a car accident draws a huge crowd on the highway,’ Stephen Gamson, a witness and artist told the Miami Herald.  In an Instagram video posted by Gamson, shards of porcelain are littered over the ground, as onlookers gather round and someone is heard exclaiming, ‘I can’t believe someone would knock it over.’ In the caption, Gamson described it as ‘one of the most crazy things I’ve ever seen.’

‘It was an event! Everybody came to see what happened. It was like when Banksy’s artwork was shredded,’ Bénédicte Caluch, an art advisor with Bel-Air Fine Art, told the Miami Herald. 

Viewers were reportedly unsure if the accident was a deliberate performance piece which was intended to shock, however, it soon transpired that it was just a mistake. The Times reported that gallery staff said that the woman was ‘very very sorry’ and ‘just wanted to disappear.’ The woman, who has remained anonymous, is covered by insurance, so fortunately will not have to pay compensation for the accident. 

In 2018, street artist Banksy concealed a shredder in the frame of his artwork, Girl with Balloon, and when the hammer came down for the work at auction, it was partially shredded in front of the eyes of the onlookers. The work was later sold for £18.6 million at Sotheby’s titled Love is in the Bin in 2021. 

Image may contain: Figurine, Human, and Person

Jeff Koons poses during the press preview of his exhibition, ‘Lost in America’

Cindy Ord/Getty Images

Jeff Koons, 68, lives in New York and was not present at the time. He is a highly-respected painter and sculptor – not to mention the most expensive living artist – drawing his inspiration from everyday items including children’s toys, cartoon characters, porcelain figurines, and party decorations. Balloon Dog (Orange), a larger counterpart to the smashed blue sculpture, set a record price for a work by a living artist in an auction in 2013, selling for $58.4 million. Another work of Koons, Rabbit, a large silver sculpture measuring 104cm, set a new record for a work by a living artist in 2019, when it was sold for a staggering $91.1 million in 2019 at Christie’s in New York.

Jeff Koons inaugurates his new exhibition at the Versailles Castle

Raphael GAILLARDE/Getty Images

The event has sent shockwaves through the art world, but not everyone views the incident as a bad thing. Cédric Boero, who also works for Bel-Air Fine Art galleries, told the Times that the increased scarcity of the collection was a ‘good thing’ for collectors. Gamson revealed on Instagram that he had offered to buy the smithereens of the sculpture on the spot as he said ‘it has a really cool story.’ And there you go, value – like beauty – is in the eye of the beholder.