Now would not seem to be the ideal time to sell Jeff Koons's Rabbit; The Art Newspaper publishes its museum attendance survey; Art Basel Hong Kong sales report.
This commentary by Marion Maneker is available to AMMpro subscribers. (The first month of AMMpro is free and subscribers are welcome to sign up for the first month and cancel before they are billed.)
Is This a Good Time for Jeff Koons’s Rabbit to Sell?
This morning’s news that Christie’s would sell Jeff Koons’s Rabbit (1986) from S. I. Newhouse’s estate with an estimate between $50m and $70m was met with both surprise and sanguine expectation. Many of the reports made reference to the 2013 sale of Koons’s Orange Balloon Dog which set an auction record of $58.4m.
Most market participants are aware of at least some part of the story behind that sale. The fact that the guarantor who bought the work is widely believed to be a regular buyer and seller of Evening sale art who has done business with the seller for years doesn’t invalidate the price achieved but it does place a level of caution around the Koons market. It also raises questions about the depth of bidders for Koons above $30m. The year after Orange Balloon Dog was sold, a complete Jim Beam Train sold for $33.7m which might be a better measure of the top of the Koons market.
Last year’s $22.8m Play-Doh sale didn’t show strong demand. That result may have been affected by the recent controversies surrounding Koons’s fabrication costs and his studio’s difficulty in delivering against a backlog of original work.
That would suggest that now is a risky time to try to set a new record price for the artist.
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