What is Jeff Koons’ Net Worth?
Jeff Koons is an American artist who has a net worth of $400 million. Jeff Koons is associated with the neo-pop art movement. He is most renowned for his colorful metallic sculptures depicting balloon animals and other everyday objects. Koons’ artworks have sold for major sums of money, and he holds multiple records for the most expensive pieces sold at auction by a living artist.
Most Expensive Living Artist
From 2013 to 2018 Jeff Koons was the most expensive living artist in the world thanks to the aforementioned $58.4 million sale of Balloon Dog (Orange). That record was broken in November 2018 when someone paid $90.3 million for a David Hockney painting called “Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures)”. Koons regained the crown in May 2019 when his 1986 stainless steel rabbit was bought at auction for $91.1 million by a private client through art dealer/banker Robert R. Mnuchin, the father of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. The rabbit, which is one of three, was part of the estate sale of late magazine publisher S.I. Newhouse and remains the last example left in private hands.
Early Life and Education
Jeff Koons was born on January 21, 1955 in York, Pennsylvania to seamstress Gloria and interior decorator and furniture dealer Henry. He was passionate about art early in his life, and would copy paintings by old masters. When he was a teenager, Koons visited famed surrealist Salvador Dalí in New York City. For his higher education, he went to the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. At the latter institution, Koons met and became inspired by artist Ed Paschke, for whom he later worked as a studio assistant.
Following college, Koons moved to New York City to pursue his career as a professional artist. During this time, he worked at the membership desk at the Museum of Modern Art. In 1980, Koons ventured away from the art world when he began working as a Wall Street commodities broker. He worked at First Investors Corporation, Clayton Brokerage Company, and Smith Barney.
Rise to Fame
Koons rose to fame in the mid-80s as part of a new generation of artists associated with the pop art movement. He established a factory-like studio in SoHo staffed with more than 30 personnel; it was modeled on the famed Factory of his pop-art predecessor Andy Warhol. Koons became renowned for his myriad series of sculptures depicting everyday objects, including vacuum cleaners and basketballs. In 1986, he created one of his most famous pieces, “Rabbit,” consisting of three identical stainless-steel sculptures resembling inflatable balloon animal rabbits. Also that year, Koons created his “Luxury and Degradation,” series, a collection of pieces revolving around alcohol and associated paraphernalia.
In 1988, Koons unveiled his “Banality” series. The most famous piece from the series is “Michael Jackson and Bubbles,” which consists of three life-size gold-leaf-plated porcelain statues depicting the titular singer and his pet chimpanzee. Following this, Koons launched his controversial “Made in Heaven” series, which depicts him and his then-wife Ilona Staller in explicit sexual positions. In response to the pushback from this series, Koons created the enormous topiary sculpture “Puppy” to win back the public. He went on to create his “Celebration” series, comprising large-scale sculptures and paintings of balloon animals, diamonds, and other shiny objects.
Among Koons’ other notable series are “Tulips,” “Easyfun,” “Popeye,” and “Hulk Elvis.” He also created the enormous “Split-Rocker,” his second topiary sculpture. In 2009, Koons began his “Antiquity” series, which includes such pieces as “Metallic Venus,” “Ballerinas,” and oil paintings depicting classical sculptures at life-size.
In his other endeavors, Koons has done curation work. He curated an Ed Paschke exhibit at New York’s Gagosian Gallery in 2009, and curated an exhibit of works from the private collection of billionaire Dakis Joannou at the New Museum in 2010. Koons has also collaborated with a number of other artists, including Martin Kippenberger and Lady Gaga. For the latter, he designed the cover of her third studio album, “ARTPOP.” Koons also partnered with the luxury fashion house Louis Vuitton to design a series of handbags and backpacks.
In the Art Market
Widely collected in both North America and Europe, Koons’ artworks maintain high value in the art market, with many of them having been sold for large sums of money at auction. In 2001, one of Koons’ “Michael Jackson and Bubbles” sculptures sold for $5.6 million. Later, in 2007, his “Hanging Heart (Magenta/Gold)” sold for $23.6 million. Koons’ biggest sales have been for “Balloon Dog (Orange),” which fetched $58.4 million in 2013, and “Rabbit,” which went for $91.1 million in 2019. The latter piece set a new record for the most expensive work sold at auction by a living artist.
While many have celebrated Koons as a significant artist of the 20th century, others have criticized him and his work for embodying crass commercialism via kitsch aesthetics and shameless self-promotion. Moreover, Koons has been sued on numerous occasions for copyright infringement due to his copious use of preexisting images. He has lost many of those lawsuits.
While attending the Maryland Institute College of Art, Koons had a daughter named Shannon Rodgers whom he put up for adoption. Later, in 1991, he married his first wife, porn star and Italian politician Ilona Staller. The couple had a son named Ludwig before divorcing in 1994 due to the alleged abuse of Staller by Koons. Following this, Koons married fellow artist Justine Wheeler, with whom he has six kids. In 2007, the pair founded the ICMEC Koons Family Institute on International Law and Policy, which is associated with the global nonprofit committed to ending child sexual exploitation.