March 5. 2024. 3:10

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Art fair visitor smashes a Jeff Koons balloon dog sculpture

The balloon dog sculptures made famous by Jeff Koons so closely imitate their twisted latex inspiration that some observers might think they would be better set in a circus than an art gallery.

But the fragility of these seemingly buoyant sculptures was made clear on Thursday when visitors at an art fair in Miami saw a bright blue porcelain dog worth $42,000 (€39,300) fall and shatter into pieces.

The sculpture, which was about 16 inches tall and 19 inches long, was perched on a transparent pedestal at Art Wynwood, an art fair in Miami where more than 50 galleries from the United States and abroad are showcasing works.

During the art fair’s VIP preview night on Thursday, art collectors and other aficionados were milling around when a woman knocked over the Koons sculpture, causing it to shatter into at least 100 pieces.

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“Before I knew it, they were picking up the Jeff Koons pieces in a dustpan with a broom,” said Stephen Gamson, an art collector and artist who said in an interview on Saturday that he saw the sculpture fall.

Gamson said that he was about to point the sculpture out to the group he was with when he saw an unidentified woman tap the sculpture with her finger, knocking it from its pedestal in a booth managed by Bel-Air Fine Art, which has galleries in the United States and Europe.

At first, Gamson said, he thought that the fall could be part of a staged performance piece, but then he noticed that the woman was blushing and art fair staff members were rushing over.

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Cédric Boero is the district manager for France and business development at Bel-Air Fine Art galleries, which was presenting the sculpture. He said that in the aftermath of the fall, while he was speaking with fair organisers, one of his colleagues spoke to the woman who knocked over the sculpture. “She said, ‘I’m very, very sorry,’ and she just wanted to disappear,” he said.

The shards of the sculpture are now stored in a box, waiting for an insurance company to review them, Boero said. – This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

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