The New York Daily News reports that film producer Joel Silver has sued Gagosian gallery, alleging that the gallery has not delivered a Jeff Koons sculpture he had agreed to purchase for $8 million. This is the second suit the gallery has faced this month. ARTnews previously reported that the collector Steven Tananbaum was suing Gagosian and Jeff Koons Studio, LLC for the “non-delivery” of three Koons sculptures for which he had paid more than $13 million.
According to the Daily News report, Silver, who has produced films in the Die Hard, The Matrix, and Lethal Weapon series, agreed to buy Koons’s 8.5-foot-tall sculpture Balloon Venus Hohlen Fels (2013–15) for $8 million in 2014. He worked out a payment plan with the gallery in which he would fulfill the cost in installments. He put down $3.2 million and was allegedly told that the sculpture would be ready in June 2017. But in January 2017, the gallery pushed back the completion date to July 2019, citing “purported difficulties in completing a ‘digital model,’ ” according to the suit. (Koons’s studio is not named in the Silver filing.)
Silver then asked Gagosian gallery to return his money because he was “frustrated by the delay and skeptical of when, if ever, the Balloon Venus would be completed.” Gagosian reportedly refused and told the producer he couldn’t have his money back until he made his payments on the new schedule laid out by the gallery. One day before Silver was to make a payment, Tananbaum filed his suit, which claims that the gallery had engineered a Ponzi-style scheme that also involved delayed completion dates.
In a statement provided to ARTnews, a spokesperson for Gagosian gallery said, “Because of the unusual process used to create his pieces, and his impeccable standards for completion, [Koons’s] contracts for sale specifically state that the delivery dates are only estimates. For more than 30 years Jeff Koons has been creating works of art and to our knowledge, without exception, has never failed to deliver these works and always to the enormous satisfaction of the collector. Progress is being made on the pieces at issue in these litigations, and as always they will be delivered upon completion.”
Update 4/30/18, 9:05 p.m.: A statement from Gagosian gallery has been added to the post.