Welcome to a new NPR series where we spotlight the people and things making headlines — and the stories behind them.
If we're being honest, the main character in this story is the woman who bumped into the pedestal holding the Jeff Koons "balloon dog" sculpture, sending it to its death on the floor at a Miami art fair last week.
But considering that was probably the most humiliating moment of her life, we're going to let her stay anonymous. And instead turn to the man who is trying to pick up the pieces. Literally.
Who is he? Artist and collector Stephen Gamson was pointing out the porcelain balloon dog to his friend when the whole thing went down.
"Just as I [was doing] that, the piece fell over and it shattered into a thousand pieces," he told NPR.
The sculpture, valued at $42,000, was on display at the booth of Bel-Air Fine Art at an exclusive preview event for Art Wynwood, a contemporary art fair. And as the crowd began to gather around the fresh shards, Gamson started filming.
On his Instagram post, you can hear the idea forming in real time.
"If you want to sell the tail..." he can be heard saying as a gallery employee tries to sweep the mess into a dustpan.
What's the big deal? While the woman who bumped into the pedestal is probably doing her best to repress the memory, Gamson is loving the drama. He thinks the piece is well worth salvaging in its current state.
"I find value in it even when it's broken," Gamson told the Miami Herald. "To me, it's the story. It makes the art even more interesting."
Gamson, who calls himself an "art junkie," has been a collector since the tender age of 17. His attraction to the broken balloon dog makes sense when you consider what else he can find value in: "I also have gone dumpster diving for art, you know, places where I know famous artists have worked."
If he gets to buy the Koons crumbs, it won't be his only name brand item.
"I used to write letters to Keith Haring, and I became a pretty significant Keith Haring collector," he told NPR.
Lauren Hodges is an associate producer for All Things Considered. She joined the show in 2018 after seven years in the NPR newsroom as a producer and editor. She doesn't mind that you used her pens, she just likes them a certain way and asks that you put them back the way you found them, thanks. Despite years working on interviews with notable politicians, public figures, and celebrities for NPR, Hodges completely lost her cool when she heard RuPaul's voice and was told to sit quietly in a corner during the rest of the interview. She promises to do better next time.
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