What will Jeff Koons create with Sean Penn's guns?

The artist plans to rework all of the actor's "cowardly killing machines" into a sculpture to raise money for charity
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From left: Balloon Dog (Orange) (1994-200) and New Hoover Deluxe Shampoo Polishers (1980) both by Jeff Koons
From left: Balloon Dog (Orange) (1994-200) and New Hoover Deluxe Shampoo Polishers (1980) both by Jeff Koons

$1.4 million is a respectable price to pay for a Jeff Koons sculpture at auction. But is it a worthy bid, if the work itself has yet to be made? Probably, in one particular case, given the materials the artist is going to use.

On Saturday night the J/P Haitian Relief Organization held a gala auction at the Montage hotel in Beverly Hills. Hollywood actor Sean Penn founded the charity following the 2010 earthquake, and among the lots on offer was Penn's own gun collection. According to online reports, his new girlfriend, the South African actor Charlize Theron, encouraged Penn to divest himself of his weaponry, since she has a strong aversion to firearms; her mother shot her father when Theron was 15.

 

New Hoover Convertibles, Green, Red, Brown, New Shelton Wet/Dry 10 Gallon, (1979) by Jeff Koons
New Hoover Convertibles, Green, Red, Brown, New Shelton Wet/Dry 10 Gallon, (1979) by Jeff Koons

Rather than simply sell off the weapons, Penn arranged for Koons to work them into a new sculpture. "The highest bidder gets every single one of my guns put in the hands of this iconic artist and sculptor," Penn explained. "Koons will decommission [and] render inactive all of my cowardly killing machines." Koons confirmed his involvement, tweeting yesterday that "It has been very meaningful to work with @SeanPenn on his @jphro Haiti benefit."

CNN journalist Anderson Cooper put in the highest bid, $1.4 million. So what will Cooper receive from the artist's studio? Well, Koons has worked with found objects before, most notably in his New and Pre-New series. There aren't any firearms in these series, but rather domestic appliances, such as vacuum cleaners and deep-fat fryers, which Koons has set in vitrines or attached to light boxes. However most of these date from the 70s and 80s, and Koons hasn't made one for a while.

 

Sacred Heart (Blue/Magenta), (1994-2007) by Jeff Koons, also cast from stainless steel
Sacred Heart (Blue/Magenta), (1994-2007) by Jeff Koons, also cast from stainless steel

He could melt the guns down, and recast them, as he's worked in stainless steel recently, most notably in his balloon animals series, which are made from highly polished steel. If he were to create something akin to this, then $1.4m seems somewhat of a steal. An orange balloon dog dated 1994-2000 and measuring 121 x 143 x 45 inches went for $58,405,000 at Christie's last November. 

For greater insight into buying art, including that of Koons, pick up a copy of our recently published book Collecting Art for Love, Money and More. Meanwhile, to learn more about Koons' personal enthusiasms, check out the book that he was "blown away" by, Wild Art, a survey of art outside the gallery system. Buy them both from the people who made them here.


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