A Little Gift from Jeff Koons

In the 80s, Dutch artists Wim T. Schippers and Theo Van den Boogard created the most deliberately irritating cartoon character in the history of ever – “León el Terrible.” León was a predecessor of Larry David, and his main mission in the world was to constantly irritate everybody with his utter nonsense. His mere presence evoked chaos wherever he went; the layabout always found some way of making a complete mess. I remember a story where, sitting in a bar, he demanded that the waiter place an ashtray full of cigarette butts next to him so that he didn’t feel so alone. Another time, he took a ladies stiletto heel to the shop assistant in a shoe shop and asked for the same style, but in men’s. One day, he faked a heart attack in the middle of the street to see if anybody was worried about him. And so on. My favorite adventure of this imbecile is one in which he tries to give an enormous statue of himself to the first council that will accept it. Obviously, nobody wants it.

I remembered León a few days ago, when I saw in the media the artist and “celebrity” Jeff Koons’ latest idea. Oh so generously, Koons has decided to gift one of his sculptures to the city of Paris, in gratitude for how well they’ve always treated him (remember his disrespectful, though hilarious, exhibition in the Palace of Versailles). Well, actually, the only thing that he has given is an outline of how a future sculpture would look, once it’s actually built. The piece isn’t small, measuring 30 meters (98 feet), making it a mammoth that’s not exactly easy to fit anywhere. And the cost to build it, according to Koons’ calculations, is $3 million, which obviously won’t be paid for by him, but by the Paris government. The piece − a hand holding some flowers − is kind of amusing, just like everything Koons creates. But as a gift it leaves much to be desired.

In theory, the idea is ingenious and lives up to his marriage years ago with Cicciolina. But Koons’ gift is worse than one of those large, horrendous wedding gifts that’s impossible to get rid of because you never know when you’ll have a visit from the wretched person who gave it to you, checking that it takes prime place in your living room.

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