Art collector accidentally smashes a Jeff Koons “Balloon Dog” worth $42,000 (£35,000)

An iconic “Balloon Dog” sculpture by Jeff Koons has been accidentally smashed to pieces in Miami. According to witnesses of the shocking mishap, the unnamed art collector said she “just wanted to disappear” after knocking the $42,000 (£35,000) piece off its stand.

The tiny chrome-blue porcelain dog was a miniature version of the original 12-foot-tall sculpture that Koons made of mirror-polished stainless steel in 1993 in Los Angeles. In 2013, a 10-foot-tall orange version sold at Christie’s for a staggering $58.4 million (£48.7 million). Koons replicated the famous larger sculptures as a smaller series between 1994 and 2000, making 799 pieces.

Up until last week, the fragile little sculpture had been displayed as part of the Bel-Air Fine Art booth at the Art Wynwood gallery in Miami. It was during a VIP event that a curious collector tapped the sculpture with her finger, causing it to crash to the ground. A number of guests initially believed the incident was a stunt or piece of performance art.

When this thing fell to the ground, it was like how a car accident draws a huge crowd on the highway,” recalled Stephen Gamson, a Wynwood-based artist and art collector. As gallery staff quickly swept up the shards of broken artwork, Gamson and other art aficionados became interested in acquiring the broken pieces.

Benedicte Caluch, an art adviser with Bel-Air Fine Art, confirmed that the woman did not mean to break the piece and that insurance would cover the damage. “It was an event!”, exclaimed Caluch, “everybody came to see what happened.” For now, the shards will be stored in a box until the insurance company has made a full assessment.

This is not the first time a “Balloon Dog” has met its maker; in 2016, another porcelain puppy was accidentally broken at Art Basel in Miami Beach. But the controversial artist was not exactly outraged by the incident. “It’s a shame when anything like that happens but, you know, it’s just a porcelain plate,” said Koons at the time. “We’re really lucky when it’s just objects that get broken, when there’s little accidents like that, because that can be replaced.”

The American artist is renowned for creating contemporary sculptures inspired by everyday objects. Koons famously broke the record for the most expensive work sold at an auction by a living artist in 2019 with “Rabbit”, which sold at Christie’s for $91.1 million (£76 million).

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