Last night auction house Christie’s sold Koons’ seminal silver Rabbit for US$91,075,000 – setting a new record for the sale of any work by a living artist.
In a Saatchi story that neatly goes full circle, a cast of the same piece was originally bought by Charles Saatchi in 1986 for US$40,000. The new record sale price was achieved following a campaign push by M&C Saatchi Group agency, LIDA.
This cast of Rabbit (one of four produced) was part of the S. I. Newhouse estate – the respected collection amassed by the US publishing magnate and Condé Nast owner.
The fevered bidding lasted 10 minutes and 40 seconds, with the hammer finally coming down on a dealer’s bid for an unknown private client.
In the lead up to the sale, LIDA had been tasked with “building the buzz that would drive the frenzy”. The response was a multi-market, multi-channel campaign that celebrated Rabbit’s chequered history and mixed critical reception, under the headline “Own the controversy”.
Global news headlines confirm the ultimate success of the campaign, and the landmark sale.
Like the sculpture itself, the record sale price has also been met with criticism and controversy, further cementing the piece’s notorious place in art history.