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The work was worth US $42,000, but incidents in the past have been far, far more costly.

Jeff Koons’ Shattered Balloon Dog Adds to Expensive Art Accidents

The Jeff Koons Balloon Dog (Blue) (2021) before and after it was knocked off its pedestal at Art Wynwood in Miami, February 2023. Courtesy Cédric Boero, Bel-Air Fine Art.

A visitor to the Art Wynwood fair in Miami accidentally nudged an edition of the Jeff Koons artwork Balloon Dog (Blue) (2021) off its pedestal and into the headlines.

The visitor was initially accused of tapping the 40cm-tall artwork with her finger and causing it to fall, but the gallery later said she had accidentally kicked the pedestal. Though it looks like a metallic blue balloon, the work is made of ceramic, and shattered to pieces.

'Life just stopped for 15 minutes,' said Cédric Boero, district manager for Bel-Air Fine Art, who presented the work.

Boero confirmed that the destruction of the US $42,000 artwork was covered by insurance.

This isn't the first Balloon Dog to break. In 2008, a magenta version__was dropped and shattered, and in 2016 another fell out of a mirrored display case at Design Miami.

After the Design Miami incident, Koons shrugged off the loss, saying, 'It's a shame when anything like that happens but, you know, it's just a porcelain plate. We're really lucky when it's just objects that get broken, when there's little accidents like that, because that can be replaced.'

Many other artworks have been accidentally damaged or destroyed over the years.

In 2006, a man tripped over his shoelace at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, UK, smashing three 300-year-old Chinese vases.

The same year, casino mogul Steve Wynn accidentally put his elbow through Pablo Picasso's 1932 masterpiece Le Rêve while gesturing towards it. He later had the work repaired and sold it for $155 million.

In 2010, Sotheby's art handlers mistakenly left a Lucien Freud painting worth $100,000 in a box that was crushed and sent to an incinerator.

A 12-year-old boy tripped and accidentally punched a hole in a $1.5 million Baroque painting—Paolo Porpora's Flowers (1660)—at a Taipei exhibition in 2015.

An estimated $200,000 in damages was done to works at a Simon Birch exhibition in Los Angeles in 2017. A visitor stumbled while trying to take a selfie and sent a row of pedestals holding works in the Hypercaine installation toppling like dominos.

And, in 2018, Gabriel Rico's $19,000 glass and found object assemblage Nimble and Sinister Tricks (to be preserved without scandal and corruption) shattered at Mexico City art fair Zona Maco after art critic Avelina Lésper placed a can of Diet Coke near the work. Unrepentant, Lésper said, 'it was like the work heard my comments and felt what I thought of it.'

Speaking to the New York Times after the destruction of the blue Balloon Dog, Boero pointed out that art destruction isn't all bad. The number of these sculptures has now shrunk from the original 799 editions to 798, he said, increasing their rarity and market value.

'That's a good thing for the collectors', he quipped. —[O]

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