91 Million Reasons

Breaking Records: Jeff Koons

Jeff Koons is an American artist known for working with popular culture subjects. The artist pays attention to the continuity of images as they pass through time. Consequently, combining artistic historical references, with idiomatic images. Koons, reproduces banal objects, such as balloon animals produced in stainless steel with mirror finish surfaces. Most recently, his sculpture “Rabbit” has become the most expensive work by a living artist to sell at auction.

Jeff Koons, Rabbit, 1986
A stainless steel faceless rabbit stands at just over 3 feet. The sculpture sold for over 91 million dollars.
Jeff Koons, Rabbit, 1986

The Pennsylvania native’s “Rabbit,” a stainless steel figure measuring just over forty-one inches, sold for more than $91 million at auction in New York. Koons’ faceless “Rabbit,” was initially proposed to sell for between $50 and $70 million. Amazingly, after no more than ten minutes into the bidding, the winning offer came in at $80 million. Including auctioneer’s fees, the total price resulted in a final sale of $91,075,000.

The new record enters the scene just six months after David Hockney’s “Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures)”. This piece set a new peak in sales for a living artist last November when it sold for $90.3 million. Hockney’s painting coincidently, had itself overtaken Koons’ “Balloon Dog (Orange)” sculpture; the previous record-holder which went for $58.4 million in 2013.

Prior to the sale, the auction house had described Koons’ Balloon Dog sculpture as “one of the most iconic works of the twentieth century. “It is crisp and cool in its appearance, yet taps into the visual language of childhood,”. The sale preview went on to read, “Its lack of facial features renders it inscrutable, yet its form evokes fun and frivolity.”

Rabbit Wins The Race

“I like to think that when you leave the room, the art leaves the room. Art is about your own possibilities as a human being. It’s about your own excitement, your own potential, and what you can become. It affirms your existence.
” – Jeff Koons

Koons’ 1986 sculpture is one of three in the edition. The second is located at the Broad Foundation in Los Angeles. While his third piece is traveling to the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago. The piece featured in the auction came from the collection of the late media mogul S.I. Newhouse. It has not been publicly exhibited for more than thirty years.

Robert Rauschenberg, Buffalo II, 1964. Oil and silkscreen ink on canvas. The contemporary painting is a collage of images, including late US President John F. Kennedy.
Robert Rauschenberg, Buffalo II. 1964

Sharing the spotlight with Jeff Koons that evening were fifty other artworks. Generating a total of almost $540 million in sales that evening. Other notable lots included Robert Rauschenberg “Buffalo II,”. This contemporary piece set a new record for the artist’s work at just under $89 million. Louise Bourgeois’ towering bronze “Spider” sculptures, went for over $32 million. The sale continues a record-breaking season for art in New York. A painting from Claude Monet’s “Haystacks” series went for $110.7 million becoming the most expensive Impressionist artwork ever to sell at auction.

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