Chinese Jeff Koons Knock-Offs Are Increasingly Sophisticated

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Jeff Koons, Balloon Dog (Yellow) (1994–2000) at the Whitney Museum.
Photo: Benjamin Sutton.

Aspiring collectors, take note: It’s getting easier and easier to buy your very own Jeff Koons balloon dog.

Recently, we reported that a Chinese company called VLA Sculpture was selling stainless steel balloon dog sculptures on Alibaba, the massive Chinese e-commerce portal. In a follow up, a company sent us a detailed PDF pamphlet showing the breadth and sophistication of their Koons manufacturing operation.

In the email received from VLA today, representative Rebecca Wang said the company has received “many inquiries of this dog statue…but most customers said the price is too high in stainless steel.” She went on to indicate that by “studying this statue,” the company’s factory has found a new way to produce dog sculptures on the cheap, by replicating them in resin.

The two-page PDF list offers eight options of pricing based on material (stainless steel or resin) and dimensions, which are cited in inches and ranged from 19.7 inches high-by-19.7 inches long-by-7.88 inches wide up to 78 inches high-by-78 inches long-by-31.4 inches wide. For the largest size of balloon dog sculpture prices are $5,850 for stainless steel, but just $2,925 for resin (though the latter weighs 200 kilograms, considerably heavier than the steel, which is just 150 kilograms).

Each of the four color options—orange, yellow, red, and blue respectively—in the PDF is illustrated with an image of a Jeff Koons balloon dog sculpture in situ. The picture of Balloon Dog (Blue) is of an edition of the work owned by Eli Broad that was shown at LACMA; the picture of Balloon Dog (Red) is the example of the work owned by Dakis Joannou, photographed while on display at Christie’s last year. Balloon Dog (Orange) is illustrated by an image of the artist’s MCA Chicago retrospective (the same image had been used to illustrate the original Alibaba listing, though it has since been stripped out).

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VLA Sculpture’s balloon dog catalogue.

All three of these images come from a Quartz.com article charting the ownership of the various Balloon Dogs, published last year when Balloon Dog (Orange) set a record at auction for a living artist, selling for $58.4 million. The final example, illustrating Balloon Dog (Yellow), features an image of Koons’s rooftop installation at the Metropolitan Museum.

The price list advises “20 days lead time” and says the works are shipped in a “strong wooden carton with waterproof and shockproof foam inside.” According to the terms of payment: “30% paid as deposit by T/T; the balance should be paid by buyer’s inspection before shipment.”

We reached out to the Jeff Koons Studio to ask if the artist plans to take any action against VLA Sculpture. As of publication, we still have not received any response, but we’ll update this space when we hear from them.

See the original VLA Sculpture balloon dog brochure here, and the updated version, with options in resin, here.