Whoops! A Clumsy Art Fair Visitor Shattered a $42,000 Jeff Koons Balloon Dog Sculpture in Miami


A sculpture from Jeff Koons’s “Balloon Dog” series was knocked over, breaking into pieces at a Miami art fair on Sunday. But the broken artwork might still commend sales value—someone says they are trying to buy it.

The limited edition, 19-inch-tall was originally on display at Bel-Air Fine Art’s booth at contemporary art fair Art Wynwood during its VIP preview day on February 16. It had a price tag of $42,000.

The iridescent porcelain sculpture was on an acrylic plinth when it was allegedly tipped over by accident. The scene was captured by the Wynwood-based artist and collector Stephen Gamson, whose post about the event on Instagram went viral.

“As I was looking the art, I pointed to a Jeff Koons ‘balloon dog’ sculpture. This woman knocked it over. I actually witnessed the whole thing,” Gamson, who claims to be a fan of Koons, state via Instagram.

He also told Miami Herald that he saw an older woman, allegedly an art collector, tap the sculpture before seeing it fall to the ground.

“One of the most crazy things I’ve ever seen,” Gamson went on in his post. However, one user commented that her boyfriend’s grandmother was the woman that Gamson mentioned, and that she did not tap the work.

The incident apparently attracted a crowd, as seen in Gamson’s video. “You see now that is a new art installation,” a person is heard saying.

A version of (2021) sold for €62,500 ($70,709, including fees) at a sale at Ketterer Kunst in Germany on December 10, 2021, according to the Artnet Price Database. A much larger version, (1994-2000), sold for $58.4 million at a Christie’s New York sale in November 2013.

Jeff Koons, Balloon Dog. Photo courtesy of Mashonda Tifrere.

Jeff Koons, . Photo courtesy of Mashonda Tifrere.

Staff from the gallery as well as the fair venue cleaned up the scene, sweeping the debris with a broom. Whoever accidentally knocked down the work seems to be off the hook from paying for it as the work was covered by insurance, according to Bénédicte Caluch, an art advisor with Bel-Air Fine Art.

However, Gamson claimed that he was trying to purchase the broken sculpture. “It has a really cool story,” wrote Gamson on Instagram. Artnet News reached out to Bel-Air Fine Art for comment but did not immediately hear back.

One user on Instagram criticized the gallery, noting that the work should have been better secured. Another commented that the woman who was said to have broken the work “did everyone a favor.”

The shattered artwork might not have broken Koons’s heart. A similar incident happened to one of his Balloon Dog sculptures before, in 2016, when it fell and smashed at the Design Miami fair. “We’re really lucky when it’s just objects that get broken,” he told Page Six back then. “That can be replaced. It’s just a porcelain plate.”

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