The Wall Street Journal was captivated by the public row over a Jeff Koons work purchased for the Sacramento Kings new stadium. Though the work was bought with a combination of donated money and public funds for the construction of the stadium, the choice of a Koons work brought out passionate advocates on either side.
The initial impulse toward Koons came from the team’s new owner:
It wasn’t long after Vivek Ranadivé bought the Kings in 2013 and pledged to keep them in Sacramento that he began hunting for what he called “an iconic piece of art” to display outside the arena he promised to build.
As it turns out, he was already a fan of “Coloring Book.” Ranadivé heard Koons discuss the collection at the World Economic Forum in Davos, and he was so interested that he went to see “Coloring Book” sculptures for himself at the Royal Academy of Arts in London and the Gagosian Gallery in Beverly Hills. When he eventually purchased the Kings, he realized he could also purchase the Koons.
One advocate for the purchase made an argument that is more telling about the culture of Contemporary art than it is about the virtues of a Koons sculpture at a sporting venue:
The most effective speech of the night came from Milton Bowens, a local artist, who argued passionately in favor of the purchase. He said the city could have spent twice as much money and he still would have supported the Koons acquisition. “In 20 years—and it’s a safe bet Sacramento will still be here in 20 years—that sculpture will be worth $50 million,” he said.