Jeff Koons Sued by Collector for ‘Non-Delivery’ of $13m Sculptures

‘They asked for this lawsuit on a silver platter’ said collector Steven Tananbaum’s counsel, alleging a Ponzi-like scheme

Jeff Koons. Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

Jeff Koons. Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

Jeff Koons. Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

In an explosive case, a New York collector has sued Jeff Koons’s studio and the artist’s dealer Gagosian Gallery in New York Supreme Court, claiming that they have failed to deliver three sculptures despite him paying over USD$13 million for them.

‘Behind the ostensible façade of Jeff Koons’ art world triumphs and record-breaking auction prices,’ the verbose 53-page complaint reads, ‘lurks a well-oiled machine, more specifically an established, archaic System as old as the hills applied to the art world to exploit art collectors’ desire to own Jeff Koons sculptures.’ New York litigator Aaron Richard Golub goes on to say: ‘The archaic system, once all of the obfuscations are stripped away, exposes a garden-variety, interest-free, fraudulent financial routine that harkens the name Ponzi.’

Collector, asset manager and MoMA trustee Steven Tananbaum has detailed his five-year attempt to receive three unrealized Koons artworks. An original purchase agreement dated 2014 for Balloon Venus Hohlen Fels (Magenta) (2013–15) claimed ‘an estimated completion date of December 2015’ for the artwork. The gallery proceeded to push the delivery date first to 2016, 2018 and then to 2019. The gallery claimed the delay was ‘due to the complicated reverse engineering by the fabricator […] which is taking longer than anticipated.’ The delivery dates were also pushed back for Eros (2016–present) and Diana (2016–present).

‘Plaintiff has not accepted the estimated completion date of August 2019,’ the complaint reads, ‘and is suing Defendants now thereon.’ Representatives for the artist and gallery have 20 days to respond.

Earlier this month, an unfortunate visitor to Koons’s Amsterdam exhibition, in the 15th-century Nieuwe Kerk, ended up smashing one of the artist’s delicate ‘Gazing Ball Paintings’ after reaching out to touch it.

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