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Jeff Koons sculpture fetches more than £10 million in Ukraine charity sale

Balloon Monkey (Magenta) on display in St James’s Square, London (Yui Mok/PA)
Balloon Monkey (Magenta) on display in St James’s Square, London (Yui Mok/PA)

A Jeff Koons sculpture has sold for more than £10 million at an auction to raise money for the humanitarian effort in Ukraine.

Ukrainian businessman and philanthropist Victor Pinchuk and his wife Olena donated Koons’ Balloon Monkey to raise money for soldiers and civilians needing prosthetics, medical treatment and rehabilitation following the Russian invasion.

Auctioneers Christie’s said the magenta sculpture now stood as a “monumental symbol of hope and solidarity” with those men, women and children from the war-torn country.

Jeff Koons: Now exhibition – London
Jeff Koons (Anthony Devlin/PA)

It was sold as part of the auction house’s 20th/21st Century: London evening sale – just exceeding its upper estimate of £10 million.

For the last two weeks, Balloon Monkey has been on public display in London’s St James’s Square.

Katharine Arnold, head of post-war and contemporary art at Christie’s Europe, said: “As the war in Ukraine continues, wreaking devastation across the country, I could not be more honoured to have worked with Victor and Olena Pinchuk on the sale of Jeff Koons’ seminal sculpture Balloon Monkey (Magenta), to realise a total of £10,136,500.

“The largest and final piece in the artist’s celebrated series of balloon animals, it stands as a gleaming symbol of solidarity.

“The balloon animal reminds us that the ordinary course of life and its simple pleasures are absent from the lives of those living through war.”

Mr Pinchuk established his charitable foundation in 2006, since when it has funded the installation of free contemporary art in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, while Olena’s foundation, established in 2003, has worked to fight the spread of Aids in the country among other initiatives.

Since Russia’s invasion began in February, both foundations have worked to support hospitals, medical workers and those injured while fighting on the frontline.