‘Hare-raising’ record: stainless steel rabbit fetches $91.1 mn

US artist Jeff Koons. File

US artist Jeff Koons. File   | Photo Credit: AFP

Jeff Koons’ work fetches highest price for a living artist

A sculpture by American artist Jeff Koons sold on Wednesday for $91.1 million (₹640 crore) at an auction organised by Christie’s in New York — a record price for a living artist.

Rabbit, a stainless steel casting of an inflatable rabbit, was the star of the auction house’s spring sale and overtook the previous record set by British painter David Hockney’s Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures), which sold last November at Christie’s for $90.3 million.

It was a return to the top for Mr. Koons, 64, whose Balloon Dog (Orange) for five years held the record for highest price reached at auction for a living artist after its 2013 sale for $58.4 million.

The selling price of Rabbit was only $80 million, but once commissions and fees were added, the final total rose.

In an unusual turn for an art auction at this price range, the buyer of Rabbit was actually in the room during the sale.

The milestone came two years after Christie’s in New York set the record for most expensive work of art known to have been sold with the sale of Leonardo de Vinci’s Salvator Mundi for $450 million.

Created by Mr. Koons in 1986, Rabbit is among the best-known works by the artist, who built a reputation for challenging art world conventions.

He has exhibited his larger-than-life creations worldwide, including a 2008 showing in France’s historic Chateau of Versailles that so jarred French traditionalists that a small group of them protested outside the event, demanding Mr. Koons’s works be sent to “Disneyland”. Standing at 1.04 metres in height, Rabbit was auctioned from the collection of deceased publishing mogul S.I. Newhouse.

Before his death in 2017, his empire included Conde Nast, which published magazines like Vogue, The New Yorker and Vanity Fair.

Alexander Rotter, chairman of post-war and contemporary art at Christie’s, said after the auction that Rabbit is “the most important piece by Jeff Koons and I want to go even a step further and say the most important sculpture of the second half of the 20th century.”

“It’s the end of sculpture. It’s the anti-David as I call it,” he said, referring to Michelangelo’s masterpiece. “You can’t go any further away from David still being figurative and a traditional sculpture.”

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Printable version | Jun 5, 2020 4:33:03 PM |

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