Jeff Koons: A Miami visitor damaged the famous Balloon Dog sculpture

One of the balloon statues from a French exhibition in 2022

Don't touch the artwork, please.

We occasionally get a reminder of the need for these signs in galleries all over the world.

When a collector unintentionally knocked a $42,000 (£34,870) sculpture by US pop artist Jeff Koons to the ground on Thursday night in Miami, art enthusiasts watched in horror.

According to witnesses at the scene, she had tapped it with her finger.

The statue, a famous Dog Balloon by Jeff Koons, broke into teeny fragments, which gallery staff had to sweep into dustpans.

The incident occurred during the VIP-only opening night of the yearly Art Wynwood contemporary art fair in Miami, Florida.

The sculpture was knocked off its pedestal by an "older woman," according to local artist Stephen Gamson, who was admiring it when it happened.

At first, he questioned whether it was a performance piece (Banksy, anyone?) but soon realized it was an accident.

When the object fell to the ground, Mr. Gamson told the newspaper, "it was like how a car accident draws a huge crowd on the highway.".

The sculpture is fortunately insured for the woman, according to Bénédicte Caluch, an art advisor with Bel-Air Fine Art galleries, which is the sculpture's representative.

Ms. Caluch told the Miami Herald, "It was an event! "Everyone showed up to see what transpired. ".

She added that the unidentified woman who caused the damage was an art collector.

Cédric Boero, who also works for Bel-Air Fine Art galleries, claimed to the New York Times that "life just stopped for 15 minutes with everyone around.".

He continued by saying that when a colleague spoke to the woman, she expressed "very deep regret" and "just wanted to disappear.".

The sculpture was one of a limited edition that originally had 799 pieces but is now down to 798.

That's good news for the collectors, Mr. Boero joked to the Times.

Jeff Koons attends Balloon Dog Blue 2021 By Jeff Koons andamp; Bernardaud at Bernardaud Flagship Store on November 15, 2021 in New York City.
A blue Balloon Dog statue by Jeff Koons is in the background as he speaks to a fan at an event in 2021.

The destroyed sculpture is still being sought after despite being broken into thousands of pieces.

Because, as Mr. Gamson stated on his Instagram page, "it has a really cool story," he offered to buy it there and then.

The incident has not been addressed by Jeff Koons, 68.

His collection of Balloon Dog sculptures is one of the most recognizable pieces of modern art, and they have sold for tens of millions of dollars.

Some are enormous, growing as tall as 10 ft (3 m), but this unfortunate one was only a puppy, standing at 16 inches (40 cm).

They have been displayed in museums and galleries all over the world. In 2017, Jay-Z further popularized them when he collaborated with Koons to produce a 40-foot-tall inflatable Balloon Dog as a stage prop.

The Rabbit sculpture by Jeff Koons sold at auction for $91.1 million (£71 million) in 2019, setting a record for the highest sale price for a living artist.

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