Koons’ “Rabbit” features a three-foot-high stainless-steel bunny, holding a carrot to its mouth. The iconic sculpture is offered at Christie’s as part of the art collection of the late S.I. Newhouse, who co-owned the media company Condé Nast.
It is estimated to fetch between (USD) $50 and $70 million — potentially breaking Koons’ auction record, set in 2013 at $58.4 million for “Balloon Dog (Orange).”
According to Alex Rotter, the chairman of the Post-War and Contemporary Art department at Christie’s, the release of “Rabbit” “would not only shake the art world to its core, but alter the course of popular culture as we now know it.”
“For me, ‘Rabbit’ is the anti-‘David,’ which signaled the death of traditional sculpture — disrupting the medium in the same way that Jackson Pollock’s ‘Number 31’ permanently redefined the notion of painting,” he added.
“Rabbit” was first shown in 1986 at Sonnabend Gallery, as part of the four-artist “New-Geo” exhibition. In a review of the show, New York Times’ art critic Roberta Smith praised Koons, citing “Rabbit” as “a dazzling update on Brancusi’s perfect forms.”
Over the past three decades, the sculpture has become an icon of contemporary art — starring in major museum exhibitions at the Centre Pompidou in Paris and Tate Modern in London, among others. A monumental blow-up version of the artwork was even featured in Macy’s 2007 Thanksgiving Day Parade.
“Rabbit” will be auctioned on May 15 at Christie’s New York in the Post-War and Contemporary Art evening sale, along with 11 other artworks. Other highlights of the sale include Andy Warhol’s “Double Elvis [Ferus Type] estimated between $50 and $70 million; Paul Cézanne’s “Bouilloire et Fruits” estimated at $40 million; and Vincent van Gogh’s “Arbres dans le jardin de l’asile” estimated at $25 million.
Koons is also well-known for Balloon Dog (Orange), another piece of work that sold for US$58.4 million at Christie’s New York’s 2013 Post-War and Contemporary Art auction — making him the most expensive living artist in the world.
For those not planning to bid on the multi-million dollar sculpture, you can also buy a 28-cm miniature version (the original stands at about 100cm) at an insignificant fraction of the price. The zinc-alloy replicas come in a limited run of 500, and are available in black, silver, and rose gold.