The Koonsmania that has gripped the New York art world for the better part of the summer (the blockbuster Whitney retrospective continues through October 19) is spilling over into the fall auction season with Christie’s and Sotheby’s rolling out news of major Jeff Koons consignments for its evening contemporary sales on November 11 and 12, respectively.
Manchester native Frank Cohen, often called “the Saatchi of the North,” has consigned a major sculpture to Christie’s, and Damien Hirst’s MurderMe collection is reportedly the source of Moon (Yellow) (1995–2000), which is headed to Sotheby’s and marks the first time one of the works from this series has come to auction.
Cohen’s consignment is a giant orange balloon monkey, which Christie’s has estimated at $20–30 million. A Bloomberg report by Katya Kazakina has interesting background on the piece, including that Cohen waited eight years (2006–2013) for the sculpture to be completed. But it turned out to be too large for his nonprofit art center in London, the Dairy Art Centre.
According to the report, Cohen unsuccessfully approached several museums (no institutions are specified), presumably in hopes of a sale, once he realized the work would not fit. According to dealer Nicolai Frahm, who cofounded the Dairy Art Centre with Cohen, exhibiting the sculpture outdoors would put it at risk of vandalism. So, Cohen, who is not quoted in the story, decided to sell the work at Christie’s.
The monkey will be displayed outside Christie’s Rockefeller Center headquarters for six weeks, starting October 6, where presumably it will be protected from vandals.
Meanwhile, Sotheby’s will be offering Koons’s large, wall-hung Moon (Yellow) with an estimate of $12–18 million and marking the first time one of these sculptures has come to auction. Each of the five versions of the Moon sculpture is painted a different color, including pink. That version is featured in the current Whitney retrospective.
As has been widely reported, Koons became the most expensive living artist when his Balloon Dog (Orange) (1994–2000), sold for $58.4 million at Christie’s in November of 2013 (see “Charting Jeff Koons’s Sky-High Market“).
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