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A Jeff Koons 'balloon dog' sculpture was knocked over and shattered in Miami

The "balloon dog" sculpture, pictured, shortly after it shattered.
Cédric Boero
The "balloon dog" sculpture, pictured, shortly after it shattered.

An art collector accidentally shattered a porcelain Jeff Koons "balloon dog" sculpture, valued at $42,000, at an arts festival in Miami on Thursday.

"I was shocked obviously and a bit sad about it," Cédric Boero, who was managing the booth that displayed the sculpture, told NPR. "But the lady was obviously very ashamed and she didn't know how to apologize."

The shattered sculpture was on display at the booth of Bel-Air Fine Art, where Boero is a district manager, at an exclusive preview event for Art Wynwood, a contemporary art fair. It's one of several balloon dog sculptures by Koons, whose balloon animal sculptures are instantly recognizable across the world. Four years ago, Koons set a record for the most expensive work sold at an auction by a living artist: a rabbit sculpture that sold for $91.1 million. In 2013, another balloon dog sculpture of Koons sold for $58.4 million.

The shattered sculpture, according to Boero, was valued at $24,000 a year ago. But its price went up as other iterations of the balloon dog sculpture sold out.

Boero said the art collector accidentally knocked the sculpture over, which fell to the floor. The sound of the shattered sculpture instantly stopped all conversation in the space, as everyone turned to look.

"It shattered into a thousand pieces," an artist who attended the event, Stephen Gamson, posted on Instagram, along with videos of the aftermath. "One of the most crazy things I've ever seen."

Artist Jeff Koons poses beside one of his balloon dog works, on display at Chicago's Museum of Contemporary Art in 2008.
Charles Rex Arbogast / AP
Artist Jeff Koons poses beside one of his balloon dog works, on display at Chicago's Museum of Contemporary Art in 2008.

In his post, Gamson said he unsuccessfully tried to purchase what remained of the sculpture. He later told the Miami Herald that the story added value to the shattered sculpture.

Fortunately, the pricey sculpture is covered by insurance.

"It's broken, so we are not happy about that," Boero said. "But then, we are a famous group of 35 galleries worldwide, so we have an insurance policy. We will be covered by that."

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Giulia Heyward
Giulia Heyward is a weekend reporter for Digital News, based out of New York. She previously covered education and other national news as a reporting fellow at The New York Times and as the national education reporter at Capital B News. She interned for POLITICO, where she covered criminal justice reform in Florida, and CNN, as a writer for the trends & culture team. Her work has also been published in The Atlantic, HuffPost and The New Republic.
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