If you've ever gotten too close to an artwork at a museum, you've likely heard an employee tell you to step back. While most of these incidents don't result in any damage to the art on display, occasionally, accidents do happen. An art fair in Miami experienced the shock of such an event when an art collector unintentionally knocked over a Jeff Koons Balloon Dog sculpture, sending it shattering to the ground.
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 VIP-only event. While these pieces can range in scale, the one that was broken measured a dainty 17 inches tall. There appeared to be no protective covering in place for the sculpture, so when the unnamed guest backed into the table, it easily flew to the floor.
“When this thing fell to the ground, it was like how a car accident draws a huge crowd on the highway,” artist Stephen Gamson, who was present at the gallery, said. He shared a couple of videos of the mishap which show the event employees quickly sweeping away the broken glass shards while other guests look on in confusion. Fortunately, Balloon Dog (Blue) is covered by insurance, so the woman will not be responsible for its estimated value of $42,000. “Life just stopped for 15 minutes with everyone around,” Cédric Boero, who works for Bel-Air Fine Art, explained.
“Of course, it is 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], lots of people were [at] 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. The pieces of the sculpture have been packed in a box by the staff of the fair in order to be stored waiting for the insurance expert to pass by.”
This is not the first time one of Koons' Balloon Dog sculptures was accidentally broken. The last time was in 2016, also in Miami, and Koons responded, “We're really lucky when it's just objects that get broken, when there's little accidents like that, because that can be replaced.” And even though the Balloon Dog (Blue) sculpture is currently in pieces, it might find a second life yet, as there are some who have already expressed interest in its broken state. “I tried to purchase the broken sculpture. It has a really cool story,” Gamson said.
Some suggested that the broken Balloon Dog (Blue) should be put back together using kintsugi, which is the Japanese art of repairing pottery by using a special tree sap lacquer dusted with powdered gold, silver, or platinum. That could result in a very interesting reincarnation of the iconic sculpture.
An art fair in Miami was interrupted by an unexpected accident.
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A guest accidentally knocked over a Jeff Koons Balloon Dog sculpture, which was worth an estimated $42,000.
Fortunately, the artwork was insured, and some are even interested in purchasing the broken pieces.
(Scroll through the album to watch videos of the aftermath.)
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