A Rabbit by Jeff Koons Sold for $ 91.1 Million, Record for a Living Artist

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Rabbit by Jeff Koons was sold for 91.1 million dollars at auction

On Wednesday 15th May, 2019, the most expensive work for an artist still alive, “The Rabbit” by Jeff Koons, was sold at auction in New York.

A sculpture of American artist Jeff Koons was sold on Wednesday 15th May, 2019, for 91.1 million dollars (81.3 million euros)  in auction organised by Christie’s in New York, a record for a living artist .

The “Rabbit”, which represents a steel casting of an inflatable rabbit, blew the painting “Portrait of an Artist” by British painter David Hockney, who had reached 90.3 million in mid-November, already at Christie’s in New York.

A person in the room

The star sculpture of Christie’s spring auction was sold for $ 80 million, the same hammer price as Hockney’s canvas, but broke the record by adding commission and fees, with a final price of $ 91.075 million. .

Unusually for a work of this award, this rabbit, which is part of a series of three by Jeff Koons in 1986, was awarded to a person in the room.

Asked by AFP, Christie’s did not want to reveal the identity of this mystery buyer, but said that collectors around the world were positioned on the work during the sale.

Most famous work of the artist

The 64-year-old visual artist recovered the record he held before being briefly dethroned by David Hockney.

His “Balloon Dog (Orange)”, sold for $ 58.4 million in 2013, had held five years.

The “Rabbit” is one of the best known works of the artist who has shaken the conventions of the world of arts.

Top 104 cm, it comes from the collection of SI Newhouse, former boss of the press group Condé Nast (deceased in 2017), which includes magazines Vanity Fair, Vogue and The New Yorker.

Jeff Koons' "Rabbit", exhibited at Christie's in New York.
Jeff Koons’ “Rabbit”, exhibited at Christie’s in New York. (© AFP / TIMOTHY A. CLARY)

“The anti-David”

For Chris Rotter, president of post-war and contemporary art at Christie’s in New York, “Rabbit” is “the most important piece of Jeff Koons,” he told AFP during the presentation auctions.

“I would go even further, it is the most important sculpture of the second half of the twentieth century,” he added. “It’s the end of the sculpture. It’s the anti-David, as I call it, “he said, referring to Michelangelo’s masterpiece (1501-1504).

For Alexander Rotter, “you can not go further than David while remaining figurative and in traditional sculpture”.

This is a new triumph for the controversial visual artist, who has sparked endless conversations since his emergence in the 1980s over the artistic and commercial value of a work.


An outstanding salesman, he regularly raised controversies, notably with his paintings and sculpture in which he copied with the former Italian film star La Cicciolina, whom he married in 1991 (divorced in 1994).

It has nevertheless already found its place in museums. In 2014, the Whitney Museum in New York and the Pompidou Center in Paris devoted a major retrospective, which had traveled from the United States to France.

“You can think of Koons what you want, this was his finest work,” commented after the auction, Alexander Rotter.

Wednesday’s sale at Christie’s was sustained, with a record $ 88.8 million for the painting “Buffalo II” (1964) by American painter Robert Rauschenberg (who died in 2008), considered one of the precursors of pop art.

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