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ARTBURO : Jeff Koons Turned Sofia Coppola’s Birkin Bag

  • artburo
  • Saturday January 17th, 2015

What's better than a Koons? A Bir-Koons. That is, an Hermès Birkin bag by none other than Jeff Koons. The artist slapped his name on several Birkins—transforming them into readymades—for Project Perpetual, a new charity organization founded by collector Svetlana Uspenskaya.

In addition, he created a gazing ball sculpture inspired by Picasso's La Soupe, which hammered down for $4 million to an undisclosed buyer. The plaster sculpture features a mother, two Birkins casually slung over her arm, handing off a bowl of soup to her young daughter. Between them, a blue gazing ball balances.

Koons explained the new work in his habitual Koons peak: "You look into the gazing ball and it's very immediate. You see your reflection. You're affirmed, your senses are stimulated…and if you move the abstraction changes. But the piece also becomes affirmed. It becomes reflected into the gazing ball, and when that happens, you go from that Dionysian type of velocity into Platonism."


Simon de Pury presided over the auction, which happened over the course of a star-studded dinner at the Four Seasons on November 9, which also featured a surprise performance by Mary J. Blige. Drew Barrymore and Naomi Campbell were in attendance, along with Maurizio Cattelan, Larry Gagosian, Vladimir Restoin Roitfeld, and Jeffrey Deitch.

The bags were donated by big names like Marc Jacobs and Sofia Coppola, but they are now bona fide Koons sculptures (if you believe wall labels, that is). "As a readymade object, it has a sense of history," Koons said. De Pury agreed, stating that "provenance is everything when it comes to Birkin bags."

Coppola, who seemed a little sad to see her bag go, recalled asking her father for the Birkin when she was "way too young to have one." When he got to the Hermès store with a wad of cash, he was apparently mistaken about the cost of the item. "They said oh, no…it's one more zero." The bag was sold last night to Alberto Mugrabi for an unknown amount.

Naomi Campbell's Birkin bag, which she described as being "like chocolate, like sex" was a last minute addition to the roster. After confirming that Koons was "up to the challenge of transforming the bag," de Pury sold it to jeweller Laurence Graff for $175,000.