Art Fair Visitor Accidentally Shatters Jeff Koons' ‘Balloon Dog’

Jeff Koons’ popular “balloon dog” sculpture—which was valued at $42,000—shattered after it was knocked over during an art fair in Miami.

A crowd of visitors in Art Wynwood—an art fair held in downtown Miami—gathered around to watch staff sweep up the shattered porcelain remains of a valuable Jeff Koon sculpture last Thursday evening. Witnesses say that the piece, entitled Balloon Dog (Blue) toppled over after an unnamed art collector tapped it with her finger. However, a statement made by Cédric Boero, the district manager of Bel-Air Fine Art (the gallery that hosted the piece) tells another story. 

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Jeff Koons 2021 piece Balloon Dog Blue
Koons’ 2021 piece Balloon Dog (Blue)/Photo via Instagram @artspace.

A Small But Impactful Kick

The incident occurred during the VIP-only opening night of Art Wynwood. In a statement shared with CNN, Boero stated that “lots of people” crowded around Bel-Air Fine Art’s booth. “The collector never intended to break the sculpture, in fact she never touched it with her hands,” he explained. Apparently, the woman had accidentally given a small kick to the transparent pedestal, which was enough to cause the statue to come crashing down. 

Art’s Value

At first glance, Balloon Dog (Blue) looked exactly like the shiny animal balloons one would find at children’s parties or circuses. In fact, it was nearly as small as a regular balloon animal, measuring 16 inches tall and 19 inches long. Unfortunately, the illusion was—quite literally—shattered during the Art Wynwood event.

One would think that a sculpture, once broken, would no longer pique the interest of art collectors. However, an art collector and attendee of the event, Stephen Gamson, actually attempted to purchase the sculpture’s shattered pieces. “To me, it’s the story. It makes the art even more interesting,” Gamson shared in an interview with the Miami Herald

A Contemporary Art Icon

Although the broken piece was valued at 42,000 U.S. dollars, this isn’t the highest price of a Koons work. The American artist is well-known for his zany Balloon Dog sculptures, which come in a variety of colors and sizes, and have sold for millions of dollars. Koons currently holds the record for the most expensive work sold at an auction by a living artist, as his Rabbit sculpture was purchased for 91.1 million U.S. dollars at a Christie’s auction in 2019.

Jeff Koons sculpture Rabbit
Koons’ sculpture Rabbit/Photo via Instagram @jeffkoons.
Jeff Koons piece entitled Balloon Dog Red
Another Koons piece entitled Balloon Dog (Red), which was installed at Icons: Worship and Adoration in 2020/Photo via Instagram @jeffkoons.

In the same statement with CNN, Boero shared that it was “heartbreaking to see such an iconic piece destroyed,” but adds that accidents can happen during these kinds of events. Thankfully, he informed the press that the artwork is covered by insurance. The broken pieces are currently being stored in a box and awaiting the inspection of an insurance expert.

Banner Photo via Instagram @artspace.

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