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US art fair visitor accidentally smashes $42,000 Koons sculpture

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US artist Jeff Koons in front of one of his 'balloon dog' pieces in Marseille, southern France, on June 28, 2021./AFP
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Feb 21, 2023 - 01:56 AM

MIAMI, UNITED STATES — A collector visiting a contemporary art fair accidentally toppled over a small glass sculpture by renowned artist Jeff Koons, shattering it to pieces.

The shiny blue sculpture, one of Koons’ famous “balloon dog” series, was valued at $42,000.

The mishap occurred during a VIP preview at Art Wynwood in Miami, and some collectors thought it was performance art or a staged stunt.

The sculpture sat alone on an acrylic base emblazoned with Koons’s surname.

“I saw this woman was there, and she was tapping (the sculpture), and then the thing fell over and shattered into thousands of pieces,” artist Stephen Gamson told a Fox News affiliate in Miami.

Gamson told reporters he thought the woman tapped on the artwork to see if it was a real balloon.

A bystander took a video as gallery employees swept up the glass shards.

“I can’t believe somebody would knock that over,” a voice is heard to say on the video.

Benedicte Caluch, an art advisor with Bel-Air Fine Art, which sponsored the Koons piece, told the Miami Herald that the woman did not mean to break the piece and that insurance would cover the damage.

Koons, who was not present, is an American painter and sculptor who draws inspiration from everyday objects, including balloon animals. His works challenge notions of what is fine art, even as they have auctioned for as high as $91 million.

His balloon dog sculptures vary in size, from less than a foot (30 centimeters) in height to over 10-feet (three-meters) tall, and come in vivid colors.

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