This artist hopes to buy the shattered Jeff Koons balloon dog Artist and collector Stephen Gamson was pointing out the porcelain balloon dog to his friend when the whole thing went down. It seems one gallery’s trash is another man’s treasure.
He watched the Koons ‘balloon dog’ fall and shatter … and wants to buy the remains
The “balloon dog” sculpture, pictured, shortly after it shattered. Cédric Boero hide caption
The “balloon dog” sculpture, pictured, shortly after it shattered.
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If we’re being honest, the main character in this story is the woman who bumped into the pedestal holding the Jeff Koons “balloon dog” sculpture, sending it to its death on the floor at a Miami art fair last week.
But considering that was probably the most humiliating moment of her life, we’re going to let her stay anonymous. And instead turn to the man who is trying to pick up the pieces. Literally.
This is one of the (remaining) versions of the balloon dog. The one that broke was a lot smaller. Cindy Ord/Getty Images for Qatar Museums hide caption
Cindy Ord/Getty Images for Qatar Museums
Who is he? Artist and collector Stephen Gamson was pointing out the porcelain balloon dog to his friend when the whole thing went down.
- “Just as I [was doing] that, the piece fell over and it shattered into a thousand pieces,” he told NPR.
- The sculpture, valued at $42,000, was on display at the booth of Bel-Air Fine Art at an exclusive preview event for Art Wynwood, a contemporary art fair. And as the crowd began to gather around the fresh shards, Gamson started filming.
- On his Instagram post, you can hear the idea forming in real time.
- “If you want to sell the tail…” he can be heard saying as a gallery employee tries to sweep the mess into a dustpan.
What’s the big deal? While the woman who bumped into the pedestal is probably doing her best to repress the memory, Gamson is loving the drama. He thinks the piece is well worth salvaging in its current state.
- “I find value in it even when it’s broken,” Gamson told the Miami Herald. “To me, it’s the story. It makes the art even more interesting.”
- Gamson, who calls himself an “art junkie,” has been a collector since the tender age of 17. His attraction to the broken balloon dog makes sense when you consider what else he can find value in: “I also have gone dumpster diving for art, you know, places where I know famous artists have worked.”
- If he gets to buy the Koons crumbs, it won’t be his only name brand item.
- “I used to write letters to Keith Haring, and I became a pretty significant Keith Haring collector,” he told NPR.
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What are people saying?
- Gamson might be right that the balloon dog has a second life, A.D. In his Instagram video, you can hear a woman comment, “You see, that is the new art installation! Everything’s art, isn’t it?”
- When Gamson approached an art advisor with Bel-Air Fine Art about buying the pieces, she laughed and replied, “For $15 million? Yeah,” the Miami Herald reported.
- And what might Koons himself think? Considering it’s happened before, he might not care that much. Another of his porcelain balloon dog sculptures was destroyed in 2016. His response? Shrug.
- “It’s a shame when anything like that happens, but, you know, it’s just a porcelain plate,” he told Page Six.
- Koons sold a giant version of his balloon dog for $58.4 million in 2013, and then six years later, a rabbit sculpture of his sold for $91 million — setting a record for a living artist.
- So the five-figure loss on this one probably won’t shatter his world. Plus, it was insured.
Jeff Koons poses during a press preview of his exhibition “Lost in America” at Qatar Museums Gallery Al Riwaq in Doha in 2021. Cindy Ord/Getty Images for Qatar Museums hide caption
Cindy Ord/Getty Images for Qatar Museums
So, what now? OK, let’s say the gallery actually comes up with a price for these pieces and lets Gamson have them. What is he going to do with a pile of broken blue porcelain?
- “I was thinking I might put them in some sort of a plexi box with a plaque on them,” he said. “They could be introduced into a piece of art that I create myself. There’s a lot of options.”
- Read about Tyler James Hoare, an artist who made the San Francisco Bay the gallery for his sculptures
- Read about the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, which is pledging $125 million to arts and humanities organizations that focus on mass incarceration
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