Koons sculpture could fetch $30 million at auction

Sat Mar 12, 2011 9:13am EST
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By Chris Michaud

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Jeff Koons' iconic "Pink Panther" sculpture is hitting the auction block in May and could sell for as much as $30 million, which would be a record for the artist, Sotheby's said on Friday.

The 1988 porcelain sculpture of a semi-naked blonde woman cuddling a large pink panther toy is the artist's proof from an edition of only three, according to the auction house.

The others are in the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Chicago's Museum of Contemporary Art and a private U.S. collection.

It is expected to be one of the highlights of Sotheby's contemporary art auction on May 10.

"Pink Panther is one of the most outstanding achievements of Jeff Koons' illustrious career. It is immediately identifiable as a masterpiece not only of the artist's historic canon, but also of the epoch of recent Contemporary Art," said Tobias Meyer, Sotheby's worldwide head of contemporary art about the vibrant pink-and-yellow work.

The record for a Koons is $25.7 million, set when "Balloon Flower (Magenta)" was sold in June 2008 on the eve of the financial crisis that sent art market prices tumbling.

Lucian Freud holds the auction record for a work by a living artist, with $33.6 million for "Benefits Supervisor Sleeping," also set in spring 2008.

Sotheby's said the work from Koons' "Banality" series combines his themes of materiality and artificiality, eroticism and naivety, pop culture and rarefied elitism.   Continued...

<p>Jeff Koons' porcelain Pink Panther is seen in this undated handout photo. REUTERS/Sotheby's/Handout</p>