Collectors Baffled Over Ridiculous Rules for Handling New Miniature Jeff Koons Artworks

Tip #1: Don't touch it!

Photo courtesy Bernardaud.

Legendary high-end French porcelain company Bernardaud has again teamed up with artist Jeff Koons to make—presumably non-functional—plate sculptures incorporating a miniature version of his famous yellow steel Balloon Dog.

“I was always intrigued by porcelain, by both the economic and the sexual aspect of the material,” the artist states, about his earlier ‘Banality’ series using porcelain, on the company website. Each of the 2,300 limited edition works sells for $8,000 exclusively at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles (MOCA). Net proceeds will be dedicated to MOCA’s endowment.

But this isn’t your ordinary pampered pooch. The plates come with some very specific instructions that mean you should absolutely not plan to serve food on them at your next dinner party. Plus, there is also the strict limit to consider: only one per customer!

Further making life easier for future owners, the instructions come in both French and English. According to the release we received:

Handling instructions for Balloon Dog (Yellow):

1. Due to the delicate metallic luster of the piece, do not handle the piece with your bare hands and use latex gloves as to not create any marks.

2. Only the back and rim of the piece can be touched with gloves hands. Fingerprints can be removed from the surface with water and a soft cotton cloth. Do not use any detergent.

3. Display (or store) the Balloon Dog (Yellow) out of direct sunlight.

4. Bernardaud or your retailer will not be responsible for any damage or mishandling on the Balloon Dog (Yellow) after it has been sold.

Artist Jeff Koons. Photo by Chris Fanning ©Jeff Koons

Artist Jeff Koons.
Photo: Courtesy of Chris Fanning, Jeff Koons.

According to the Bernardaud release, the new Balloon Dog (Yellow) “simulates the mirror-polished stainless steel of the monumental sculpture with its metallic yellow finish,” which is then affixed to a shiny porcelain plate. “This highly complex project required the skill and expertise of modelers, decorators, and glazers within the workshop of the company, and new technologies were created in order to meet the artist’s requirements.”

The record for a Balloon Dog at auction was $58.4 million, set at Christie’s New York in May 2014 for Balloon Dog (Orange) (1994-2000).

Last summer, while the Whitney Musuem was displaying a massive, building-consuming retrospective of Koons’ work, Bernardaud offered porcelain plates and vases in its Chelsea store that riffed on the monumental Koons “Split Rocker,” a hybrid-animal flowered head installation in Rockefeller Center. The vase was priced at a cool $5,000, while the 12.2-inch “coupe service plates” were $475 each.

Around the same time, artnet News flagged some decidedly illicit balloon dogs that were being offered through a company called VLA Sculpture on Chinese e-commerce site Alibaba.com. In 2011, the artist called dibs on all balloon dogs forever, having sent cease and desist letters to San Francisco-based Park Life because they were selling balloon dog bookends (one site deemed this an act of “megalomaniac delusion“).

We reached out to the Koons studio for comment but did not get a response by the time of publication.

For related coverage, see:

Charting Jeff Koons’ Sky-High Market

Alibaba Unleashes Litter of Koons Balloon Dog Knockoffs

Here’s What a $650 Koons Balloon Dog Knockoff Looks Like

Chinese Jeff Koons Knockoffs Are Increasingly Sophisticated

Jeff Koons at the Whitney, The Art World’s Great White Hope

Critical Reduction: Jeff Koons at the Whitney


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