Jeff Koons And Very Eccentric Art Extravagancies

Federico Tibytt

Koons third "Popeye" was sold at auction for more than $28 million. Previously, his "Balloon Dog" had reached a staggering $ 58.4 million. See how eccentricity pays!

Popeye by Jeff Koons
(L) Popeye. Courtesy Sotheby’s. (R) Jeff Koons. Courtesy David Shankbone.

Jeff Koons, an American artist who has led the way in the last 35 years of contemporary art discourse is undoubtedly one of the most sought-after artists in today’s art scene. The eccentricity that characterizes both his private life and his work has been the subject of much controversy, and has certainly caught the attention of collectors and the admiration of his followers throughout the world.

From his marriage to Italian politician and porn star Ilona Stalle, known as Cicciolina, to the astronomical price of one of his works known as Balloon Dog, which sold for $58.4 million, are examples of the unconventionality that surrounds this contemporary genius.

Proving once again the market value of his moniker, and his appeal among collectors, the gaming magnate and art collector Steve Wynn recently purchased one of Koons’ Popeye sculptures for $28,126,000. This spectacular 2,000 lb. monument made entirely of polished stainless steel and mirrored texture presents Popeye as the ultimate American hero. It was created by the artist between 2009 and 2011, and is part of a three-part series.

The sculpture represents the iconic sailor immortalized with his distinctive pipe, his typical attire, his left arm flexed showing the tattoo on his bicep—and, of course, his spinach, the source of incredible strength that has made him famous everywhere. The playful representation follows Koons’ characteristic aesthetics.

Popeye by Jeff Koons
Popeye. Courtesy Sotheby’s.

This is the third and final sculpture of the series. Its new owner joins the exclusive club of other distinguished collectors made up of gallery owner Larry Gagosian, and magnate and investor Steve Cohen, who own the two other pieces.

Sotheby’s made the work available to the public during one of its Contemporary Art Evening Auction’s. According to curator Alexander Rotter, “Popeye represents the beginning and end of pop art. There was always something special about the little man that turned him into something huge.” Iconic artists such as Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein also portrayed this historical children’s character in works of their own. ■

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