Jeff Koons, an American artist who has led the way in the last 30 years contemporary art discourse is undoubtedly on of the most sough-after in today’s art scene. The eccentricity that characterizes both his private life and his work has been the subject of much controversy, but it certainly has caught the attention of collectors and the admiration of his followers throughout the world.
His marriage to Italian politician and porn star Ilona Stalle, known as Cicciolina, and the astronomical price achieved by one of his works, Balloon Dog sold for $58.4 million are examples of the unconventionality that surrounds this contemporary genius. The richest artists at a moment.
(L) Popeye. Courtesy Sotheby’s.
(R) Jeff Koons. Courtesy David Shankbone.
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 series of three.
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 made him famous everywhere. The playful representation follows Koons’ characteristic aesthetics.
Popeye. Courtesy Sotheby’s.
This is the third and final sculpture of the series. Its new owner joins the exclusive club of distinguished collectors made up of gallery owner Larry Gagosian, and magnate and investor Steve Cohen, who own the other two pieces.
Sotheby’s made the work available to the public during the Contemporary Art Evening Auction. 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 had also portrayed this historical children’s character.
Steve Wynn plans to exhibit his Popeye in one of his hotels or casinos. If he keeps his promise, we will be able to enjoy the spectacular sculpture on our next trips to Las Vegas. ■