In December, the San Francisco gallery Park Life received a letter from art superstar Jeff Koons claiming that the $30 balloon dog bookends it was selling infringed upon his intellectual property rights to the playful shape, which he’s used as the basis for (very lucrative) sculptures over the years. A court victory for Koons could mean he’d have exclusive rights to all balloon dog-shaped objects. Actual clowns are concerned. One was so moved by our post he wrote to us:
Their [sic] is a mistake in your article. You state that Jeff Koons is the inventor/creator of the balloon dog. This is not the case. Famous New York artist Jeff Koons is claiming he is the only one that has the right to sell anything with the image of a balloon dog because in 1995 he created a balloon dog sculpture and copyrighted his art. Yet in 1966, balloon master Jimmy Davis wrote a copyrighted book called, One Balloon Zoo and on page 16 is the exact balloon Jeff Koons copied to make his famous “Balloon Dog” sculpture in 1995. I have been a balloon artist for over 35 years and the first balloon I learned was the Davis balloon dog. Think about it. Do you think 1995 was the first time the world ever saw a balloon dog exist? Jeff Koons is wrong!
-A Sad Clown