With the sale last night of his "Hanging Heart (Magenta/Gold)" for
$23.6 million, Jeff Koons is now the
priciest living artist at auction. Now it’s entirely possible that someone
will decide to go the auction-house route rather than the private-dealer route
in selling a major canvas by Jasper Johns, for example – something which
would obliterate the Koons record. But for the time being, the two most expensive
works ever sold at auction by a living artist are both sculptures: the previous
record was a $19.1 million pill cabinet by Damien Hirst.
I’m not clear where this desire for sculpture comes from, given that historically
it has always been the poor cousin of painting. And I’m also not clear how these
kind of things get valued: just within Koons’s Celebration series, it seems
that the heart is worth exactly twice as much as the “Blue Diamond”
which sold at Christie’s on Tuesday for $11.8 million. And Bloomberg reports
that even the heart is "not as desirable as other works in the series such
as ‘Balloon Dog’."
The seller of the heart was Adam Lindeman, who literally wrote the
book on collecting contemporary art. That he’s now uncollecting contemporary
could be a sign that last night’s sale marked a peak in the market for Koons.
Update: The fabulously cantankerous curmudgeon Souren
the good point that "Hanging Heart" can reasonably be considered
to be a multiple. Has the rise of fine art photography has helped to eliminate
the discount that traditionally applies to multiples?