Koons Reclaims Title of Most Expensive Living Artist

'Rabbit' fetched $91.1M at Christie's auction
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted May 16, 2019 4:00 AM CDT
Jeff Koons poses next to "Rabbit."   (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)
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(Newser) – Jeff Koons hopped back on top of the art world Wednesday night when his "Rabbit" sculpture sold for a record $91.1 million at a Christie's auction. It was the most expensive work by a living artist ever sold at auction, breaking a record set just six months ago when David Hockney's "Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures)" sold for $90.3 million, the BBC reports. Before the Hockney sale, Koons held the record for five years with the sale of "Balloon Dog (Orange)" for $58.4 million. "Rabbit," a 3-foot tall stainless steel sculpture, was bought, apparently for a client, by art dealer Robert Mnuchin, father of Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Bidding started at $40 million but Mnuchin and three other bidders brought the price up to $80 million, which became $91.1 million with Christie's fees, the Journal reports. The price "confirmed how Mr. Koons's metal sculptures have become the ultimate billionaire trophies" from '80s and '90s art, the New York Times reports. "Rabbit" is one of the 64-year-old Koons' best-known works. On its website, Christie's described the 1986 sculpture, which was inspired by a child's toy, as "cute, sinister, cartoonish, imposing, vacuous, sexy, chilling, dazzling, and iconic." (On Tuesday, a Claude Monet work broke more than one record at a Sotheby's auction.)

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