Art fair goer breaks Jeff Koons’ ‘Balloon Dog’ sculpture

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If you’ve ever gotten too close to an artwork in a museum, you’ve probably heard a staff member tell you to step back. While most of these incidents do not result in damage to the art on display, accidents do occasionally occur. A Miami art fair experienced the shock of one such event when an art collector accidentally knocked over and smashed a Jeff Koons balloon dog sculpture.

The miniature sculpture was part of a series of 799 such pieces by the American artist and was displayed by Bel-Air Fine Art on a glass table for the Art Wynwood contemporary art fair, a VIPs-only event. While these pieces can vary in size, the broken piece was a petite 17 inches tall. There appeared to be no protective cover for the sculpture, so kicking the unnamed guest backwards against the table sent him flying slightly to the ground.

“When this thing fell, it was like a car crash pulling a huge crowd onto the freeway,” said artist Stephen Gamson, who was present at the gallery. He shared a few videos of the mishap, which shows event staff quickly sweeping up the broken glass while other guests look on in confusion. Luckily, Balloon Dog (Blue) has insurance so the woman is not responsible for the estimated $42,000 value. “Life just stopped with everyone around for 15 minutes,” explained Cédric Boero, who works for Bel-Air Fine Art.

“Of course it’s heartbreaking to see such an iconic piece destroyed,” he continued. “[However,] the collector never intended to break the sculpture, in fact she never touched it with her hands. It was the opening cocktail [party]many people were [at] our booth. She unwittingly gave the pedestal a small kick, enough to knock the sculpture off. Unfortunately, this kind of thing happens; Therefore the work of art was insured. The pieces of the sculpture were packed into a box by the fair staff to keep until the insurance expert passed.”

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This isn’t the first time one of Koons’ Balloon Dog sculptures has accidentally broken. The last time was in 2016, also in Miami, and Koons replied, “We’re really lucky when things just break, when there are little accidents like this, because that can be replaced.” And although the sculpture Balloon Dog (Blue) currently broken into pieces, it may yet find a second life as some have already expressed an interest in its broken state. “I tried to buy the broken sculpture. It has a really cool story,” Gamson said.

Some suggested that the broken balloon dog (blue) should be reassembled using kintsugi, the Japanese art of repairing pottery using a special tree resin varnish dusted with gold, silver, or platinum powder. That could lead to a very interesting reincarnation of the iconic sculpture.

An art fair in Miami was interrupted by an unexpected accident. A guest accidentally knocked over a Jeff Koons balloon dog sculpture that was estimated to be worth $42,000.

Photo: Screenshot by @gamsonart/Instagram

Luckily, the artwork was insured, and some are even interested in buying the fragments. (Scroll through the album to watch videos of the episodes.)

Jeff Koons: Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter
h/d: [BBC News]

All images by Stephen Gamson. Related articles:

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