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Balloon dog Jeff Koons sculpture shattered at Miami art fair

Doggone it! An iconic sculpture in the shape of a dog by renowned American artist Jeff Koons shattered to pieces after a guest at a Miami art fair accidentally knocked it over.

The incident took place during a preview event for VIPs at Art Wynwood, a contemporary fair in Miami, last Thursday. 

Koons is well known for his series of large stainless-steel “balloon” sculptures, and smaller porcelain versions, which resemble the inflated creations clowns make when they twist balloons into the shapes of animals. 

“She never touched it with her hands”

The sculpture that was damaged was worth $42,000 in its original state, its exhibitor, Bel-Air Fine Art, said in a statement to CBS MoneyWatch. The piece itself, which was not encased, was never touched. Rather, it was knocked over by accident when a guest bumped into the pedestal on which it was displayed. 

“Of course it is heartbreaking to see such an iconic piece destroyed. However, the collector never intended to break the sculpture, in fact she never touched it with her hands,” said Bel-Air Fine Art district manager Cédric Boero, who was present at the incident. “It was the opening cocktail, lots of people were on our booth; she gave, unintentionally, a little kick in the pedestal, which was enough to cause the sculpture to fall down.”

The gallery chain added that the piece of art was covered by insurance. Gallery staffers collected and boxed up the sculpture’s remains, which are being held for inspection by the insurer. 

While disappointed, Boero appeared to be unfazed by the accident. 

“This kind of thing unfortunately happens, that is why the artwork was covered by insurance,” he said. 

Interest remains intact

The incident drew a crowd, with some collectors even speculating that the fall might be a deliberate stunt — or a piece of performance art.  

Pop artist and collector Stephen Gamson, who was also at the preview event, wrote in an Instagram post that he saw the sculpture shatter, and then attempted to purchase it in its broken state. 

Bel-Air Fine Art confirmed ongoing interest in the piece. 

“Some collectors offered to buy the shards; we are still receiving offers as we speak,” Boero said. 

He attributed the fanfare to Bel-Air’s good reputation for selling investment-worthy pieces, combined with Koons’ fame. 

Artist and collector Stephen Gamson captured remnants of the broken sculpture, which he offered to purchase. 

Stephen Gamson/ Instagram

“Bel-Air Fine Art has a 20-years long investment-oriented reputation. That, plus a famous Koons piece created the hype,” Boero said. 

The hype — and perhaps the fact that there is one less intact Koons balloon sculpture in the world — makes the remaining balloon dog sculptures more valuable. 

One Twitter user, who dubbed the broken artwork “The shattered,” quipped that it is “probably worth a billion now.”

Representatives for Koons did not immediately respond to CBS MoneyWatch’s request for comment.

— With reporting from CBS MoneyWatch’s Irina Ivanova

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