A $42,000 limited edition blue porcelain balloon dog sculpture by world-famous artist Jeff Koons has been smashed by an art collector in downtown Miami.
The shiny, electric blue sculpture was on display at the Bel-Air Fine Art’s booth during the Art Wynwood contemporary art fair on Thursday.
Footage shows the dismay of art enthusiasts who appeared unable to peel their eyes away from the pricey accident.
Stephen Gamson, a Wynwood-based artist and art collector, filmed the aftermath of the incident telling the Miami Herald that the destroyed piece turned out to be the most popular attraction.
A $42,000 limited edition blue porcelain balloon dog sculpture by world-famous artist Jeff Koons has been smashed by an art collector in downtown Miami
Koons, an American artist, is known for his pop culture references and depictions of everyday objects one of his most expensive artworks sold – his sculpture ‘Rabbit’ – for $91.1 million
‘When this thing fell to the ground, it was like how a car accident draws a huge crowd on the highway,’ Gamson said.
Onlookers gawked at the smashed pieces of porcelain littered at across the floor of the Miami art space in the video.
Some are heard saying ‘this is exciting’ while others were seen jumping over the destroyed work of art in a bid to avoid creating more debris of electric blue porcelain.
One bystander appeared emotional at the site of the broken sculpture, while one woman noted: ‘You see now that is the new art installation, everything is art.’
‘It’s the most popular booth in the whole fair,’ Gamson is heard saying to the woman off camera as he continues to pan across the scene.
Staff at the exhibit were seen asking people to ‘step back’ from the piece as one bystander offered to purchase part of the smashed object commenting ‘if you want to sell the tail.’
‘I can’t believe somebody would knock that over 2 minutes ago,’ another bystander can be heard saying, a notable sound of bewilderment in his tone.
‘It’s not a Ming vase at least,’ said another.
The small sculpture is then seen being swept away by staff carefully as the crowd begins to disappear.
Koons, an American artist, is known for his pop culture references and depictions of everyday objects one of his most expensive artworks sold – his sculpture ‘Rabbit’ – for $91.1 million.
Gamson, a Koons fan, was walking around Art Wynwood with a friend when he spotted the blue balloon dog sculpture sitting on an acrylic stand.
Onlookers gawked at the smashed pieces of porcelain littered at across the floor of the Miami art space in the video
Staff at the exhibit were seen asking people to ‘step back’ from the piece as one bystander offered to purchase part of the smashed object commenting ‘if you want to sell the tail’
The small sculpture is then seen being swept away by staff carefully as the crowd begins to disappear
‘It was really the star of this booth,’ he told the outlet.
The art enthusiast said that he pointed out the sculpture to a friend when he saw an older woman tap the sculpture, knocking it off the pedestal and loudly shattering into pieces.
Gamson said that he believes the woman had tapped the sculpture because she was curious to see if it was a real balloon, learning the hard way, that it was not.
Bénédicte Caluch, an art advisor with Bel-Air Fine Art, told the Miami Herald that the expensive artwork was covered by insurance.
The woman was an art collector who did not mean to break the piece, Caluch said saying of the ordeal: ‘It was an event!’
‘Everybody came to see what happened. It was like when Banksy’s artwork was shredded.’
Gamson approached Caluch and offered to buy the broken pieces.
‘I find value in it even when it’s broken,’ Gamson said. ‘To me, it’s the story. It makes the art even more interesting.’
‘I said, ‘For $15 million? Yea!” Caluch joked, offering to sell him a piece that was intact instead.
Koons created kitschy pornographic depictions of him and his Italian porn star wife, spent 20 years perfecting a sculpture of a giant lump of Play-Doh and even considered Michael Jackson and his pet chimp Bubbles a worthy artistic subject.
The popular artist has polarised opinion like no other contemporary artist and is a purveyor of banal gimmickry whose talent is far outweighed by his salesmanship, chorus his many critics.
Others revere his as an American genius who they insist has been a seminal influence on contemporary art.
Koons Balloon dog (Blue) is made of porcelain and a limited edition piece
Koons’ art has included Puppy, a 43 ft-high West Highland terrier covered with living flowers and Play-Doh, a 10ft-high multi-coloured mountain of the children’s modelling compound
Koons has polarised opinion like no other contemporary artist. He’s a purveyor of banal gimmickry whose talent is far outweighed by his salesmanship many critics say
The late, respected art critic Robert Hughes claimed Koons ‘couldn’t carve his name on a tree’.
He was particularly infuriated that Koons doesn’t physically craft his objects himself but leaves it to his 148-strong team of assistants.
Sceptics compare Koons to the pop artist Andy Warhol, who memorably said ‘art is what you can get away with’.
Koons’ art has included Puppy, a 43ft-high West Highland terrier covered with living flowers and Play-Doh, a 10ft-high multi-coloured mountain of the children’s modelling compound, made from aluminium and which he said was inspired by something his toddler son made.
The son of an interior decorator, Koons showed money-making flair as a child by selling sweets and wrapping paper door-to-door.
He began art lessons at the age of seven and by nine he was painting copies of old masters, which his father sold in his showroom.
Koons was studying art in Maryland when he fathered a child with a fellow student. The child was put up for adoption by the girl’s parents.
Koons claims he sought fame in part because his ‘visibility’ would help his daughter find him. They met decades later after she had come of age, and are now close.
After moving to New York, he produced artworks including inflatable plastic toys placed on mirrors and kitchen appliances encased in brightly lit glass display cases.
In 1991, Koons married La Cicciolina, an Italian porn star whose real name was Ilona Staller. She was also an Italian MP who once offered to have sex with Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein
A photo of Koons wearing a paper bib and plastic flowers in his New York apartment in 1978 which he said was ‘an environment with a lot of plastic, inflatables and mirrors
These were financed by a high-pressure job on Wall Street. His first major art success was a 1988 show called Banality, which included porcelain figurines of a nearly life-size Michael Jackson and Bubbles, and another of a semi-naked blonde embracing the Pink Panther.
In 1991, Koons married La Cicciolina, an Italian porn star whose real name was Ilona Staller. She was also an Italian MP who once offered to have sex with Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein if he freed hostages.
After seeing her in a porn magazine, Koons flew to Rome and went backstage after one of her notorious stage performances involving a live snake.
He persuaded her to collaborate on a controversial series of sculptures and paintings called Made In Heaven, in which he was naked and she barely clothed.
One piece had an unprintable name – another, Silver Fish – was a full-frontal portrait of Staller’s genitals, framed by a pair of her fishnet stockings.
Critics were appalled, but Koons insisted it wasn’t pornography because ‘sex with love is a higher state’.
Ignoring the advice of friends and family, he married her. They celebrated by posing in a New York Gallery in front of glass sculptures of themselves in tantric positions.
In 1992 they had a son, Ludwig, but separated the following year, partly because Staller refused to stop making porn.
Staller took Ludwig, then 18 months old, back to Italy in contravention of a court order, alleging Koons had subjected her to physical and emotional abuse.
Claiming he was the victim of child abduction, Koons fought a decade-long, but sadly, unsuccessful legal battle which cost him millions of dollars.
The artist has six other children by his second wife, South African artist Justine Wheeler
Koon’s 2004 Balloon Dog, which sold for $58.4million, is one of the many works of his which has attracted criticism
He was so furious with his ex-wife that he destroyed all the remaining works he had from their Made In Heaven collaboration.
He said he poured his sorrows into his art during the 1990s, basing much of his work on children’s toys, including the balloon dogs.
Koons said he hoped his absent son would see them and know he was thinking of him.
The artist has six other children by his second wife, South African artist Justine Wheeler.