In the 33 years since it was first shown at Ileana Sonnabend’s gallery in New York, many thousands of words have been written about Jeff Koons’s controversial, stainless-steel Rabbit. In the debates that have raged it has variously been described as cute, sinister, cartoonish, imposing, vacuous, sexy, chilling, dazzling and iconic.
Those inside Christie’s Rockefeller Center saleroom on Wednesday evening were treated to a new chapter in the story, however, as this gleaming, 41-inch-high bunny sold for $91,075,000 (including buyer’s premium) — a new world auction record for a work by a living artist.
Rabbit was one of 11 works offered during 20th Century Week from The Collection of S.I. Newhouse, a stellar grouping that fetched $216,287,500. ‘On behalf of the family and myself I want to express our gratitude for the great work Christie’s has done,’ said Tobias Meyer, adviser to the Newhouse family, after the auction. ‘We are delighted with the results.’