A guest at a Florida art show caused one of the sculptures on display to fall off a pedestal and shatter beyond repair.
Witnesses at the annual Art Wynwood event in Miami said a female art collector ruined a “Balloon Dog” statue from artist Jeff Koons by causing it to fall and break into hundreds of pieces. The estimated value of the 16-inch by 19-inch porcelain sculpture was $42,000.
It happened during the art fair’s V.I.P. preview night for art collectors and other industry insiders.
“The collector never intended to break the sculpture, in fact she never touched it with her hands,” the gallery’s district manager, Cédric Boero told CNN. “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.”
“This kind of thing unfortunately happens, that is why the artwork was covered by insurance,” he continued.
Meanwhile, an eyewitness told The New York Times that the woman tapped the statue with her finger.
Local artist and collector Stephen Gamson told the publication he thought the accident was a “performance” at first. “Before I knew it, they were picking up the Jeff Koons pieces in a dustpan with a broom,” he continued.
“When this thing fell to the ground, it was like how a car accident draws a huge crowd on the highway,” Gamson said.
“Life just stopped for 15 minutes with everyone around,” Boero told the NYT of the incident. He went on to say the woman responsible for shattering the piece was “very, very sorry” and “just wanted to disappear.”
Koons, who lives in York, Pennsylvania, is well known for his balloon dog sculptures and currently has 799 different versions in his repertoire. The sculptures range in size from 10 inches to over 10 feet tall. The artist said he’s planning to send one of his pieces to the moon next.
In 2019, a sculpture from Koons called “Rabbit” from 1986 was sold for $91 million at Christie’s New York. This sale became the most expensive art piece sold by a living artist at auction.
The artist also sold “Balloon Dog (Orange)” for $58.4 million in 2013.
One art collector asked the gallery owner if they could purchase the broken pieces, the NYT noted, though at the time of publication that offer hadn’t been accepted yet. The broken sculpture pieces are currently being stored in a box pending the insurance review.