The thing about transparent art pedestals is that they’re transparent. So it shouldn’t totally shock anyone that a visitor to Art Wynwood in Miami accidentally bumped into one last week, causing a valuable limited-edition sculpture by artist Jeff Koons to come tumbling to the ground.
Slightly more shocking: Collectors are looking for any broken shard from the dustpan they can get.
According to The New York Times, the collision took place during a preview showcase for the art fair. Titled Balloon Dog (Blue), the 16-inch by 19-inch porcelain sculpture meant to mimic a latex balloon animal was resting on a transparent pedestal when a woman inadvertently gave it a little kick. (Eyewitness accounts vary: Another version has her poking it with her finger.) The object fell, shattering into at least 100 pieces.
“Life just stopped for 15 minutes with everyone around, like security,” exhibitor Cédric Boero told the Times. “[The woman] said, ‘I’m very, very sorry,’ and she just wanted to disappear.”
At the time of the accident, collectors perusing the gallery approached employees to see if some of the pieces might be for sale. (Intact, the sculpture is valued at roughly $42,000. A total of 799 of them were made in 2021, making them slightly more affordable than the tens of millions Koons often fetches for his one-of-a-kind works.)
“For me, it’s like some kid collecting baseball cards,” collector Stephen Gamson, who witnessed the accident, told The Washington Post. “I’m really into it and, when you’re that passionate about it, even broken pieces or damaged pieces have value to you.”
Admirers accidentally damaging art is nothing new. In 2010, a woman fell into The Actor, a Pablo Picasso painting, at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. The damage required three months of restoration work. In 2006, three Qing Dynasty vases were shattered when a man bent over to tie his shoe and lost his balance.
For now, the balloon dog pieces are being held until the insurance company can assess the claim. If it were to be sold off piecemeal, the real treasure might be in the tail: It survived the fall more or less intact.
[h/t The New York Times]