‘Heartbreaking’: Visitor accidentally shatters Jeff Koons ‘balloon dog’ sculpture

Feb 20, 2023, 9:22 AM | Updated: 9:23 am
Bel-Air Fine Art was displaying the sculpture as part of its booth at Art Wynwood in Miami.
Bel-Air Fine Art was displaying the sculpture as part of its booth at Art Wynwood in Miami. Mandatory Credit: Bel-Air Fine Art Contemporary Art Galleries

(CNN) — The artist Jeff Koons’ famous sculptures might look like they’re made from balloons — but the works are actually fragile, as one art fair attendee found out when she knocked over a $42,000 Koons piece Thursday, causing it to shatter.

A blue balloon dog sculpture created by Koons broke into tiny shards when a visitor accidentally kicked its podium, according to the gallery hosting the piece.

Bel-Air Fine Art was displaying the piece at its booth at Art Wynwood, a contemporary art fair in Miami.

In a statement shared with CNN over email, the gallery’s district manager, Cédric Boero, who was managing the Art Wynwood booth, told CNN that the gallery serves as “one of the official representatives for the famous Jeff Koons balloon dogs sculptures.”

“Of course it is heartbreaking to see such an iconic piece destroyed,” said Boero.

He said the piece fell after an unnamed art collector visiting the booth unintentionally kicked the pedestal during the fair’s opening cocktail hour Thursday evening.

“The collector never intended to break the sculpture, in fact she never touched it with her hands,” he said. “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 said.

The gallery shared photos of the sculpture reduced to scraps of ceramic lying on the floor. The pieces are currently waiting in a box to be evaluated by an insurance expert, according to the gallery. Bel-Air Fine Arts added that some collectors have offered to purchase the broken pieces.

The 2021 piece was entitled “Balloon Dog (Blue)” and valued at around $42,000, according to an email from Bel-Air Fine Art. The sculpture was made of porcelain and measured 40 x 48 x 16 cm. A total of 799 editions of the sculpture were made.

Koons and Art Wynwood did not immediately reply to CNN’s request for comment.

Koons’ balloon animal figures are some of the most iconic — and expensive — sculptures in the contemporary art world. His pieces have fetched jaw-dropping sums at auction: “Rabbit” (1986) sold for $91 million at Christie’s New York in 2019, and “Balloon Dog (Orange)” (1994-2000) sold for $58.4 million six years earlier.

He has created hundreds of renditions of the balloon dogs, some of them towering over 10 feet tall, and some of them just over a foot tall, like the sculpture that shattered.

The-CNN-Wire™ & © 2023 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

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‘Heartbreaking’: Visitor accidentally shatters Jeff Koons ‘balloon dog’ sculpture