Bunny money: Koons trumps Hockney as priciest living artist
At $91m, Jeff Koons’s 1986 stainless steel sculpture ‘Rabbit’ smashes record set by ‘Portrait of an Artist’
US artist Jeff Koons’s 1986 stainless steel sculpture Rabbit smashed the record for the sale price of a living artist last week at Christie’s in New York. Selling for $91m, the work beat the record broken in 2018 by David Hockney’s painting Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures), sold by Christie’s New York for $90.3m. Hockney’s sale had significantly beaten the previous record for the sale of a work by a living artist, held by … Jeff Koons for his sculpture Balloon Dog (Orange), which had sold in 2013 for $58.4m.
Rabbit, a much sought after work among a very rich group of dedicated collectors, fetched its record-breaking price not only because it’s one of an edition of only three but also because of its provenance. Its previous owner was SI Newhouse, the publishing magnate and owner of the Conde Nast Group who died in 2017. The winning bid was made by art dealer Robert Mnuchin on behalf of an unnamed client. Mnuchin’s name may seem familiar because his son Steven is the secretary of the treasury in Donald Trump’s cabinet.
The auction also saw a new record set for the work of seminal pop artist Robert Rauschenberg whose silkscreen Buffalo II from 1964 sold for $88.5m.