Jeff Koons’ controversial gift to Paris suffers delays


It’s not quite the Statue of Liberty, but the intention was still good. To honor victims of the 2015 terrorist attack, Jeff Koons announced he would give the “City of Lights” a large sculpture called “Bouquet of Tulips.” And it was well received, the former United States ambassador to France and Monaco, Jane D. Hartley, and the mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo jointly arranged the gift in the hopes to boost tourism.

But the project is now facing some technical difficulties.  It turns out the 40-foot-high, 30-ton artwork needs a much stronger structure in order to be properly displayed. The pavement on which the the work would reside, on the plaza outside contemporary art museums  –within view of the Eiffel Tower — is not sturdy enough to hold the behemoth. As a result a private foundation is trying to raise $3.5 million euros for the project, and it’s taking longer than anticipated to raise the funds, according to the New York Times.

Now some are not so sure France wants the kind of gift it has to pay millions for.

“They presented this bouquet as a symbolic present to Paris, but then we realized it wasn’t exactly a present, since France had to pay to install it,” Isabel Pasquier, an art critic at France Inter, one of the country’s leading public radio stations, told the Times. “Whether you appreciate his art or not, Jeff Koons is a businessman, and we quickly understood that he was offering Paris to himself as a present.”

Others simply feel the sculpture itself is in poor taste.

Still, the government seems confident the project will come to fruition, although it may have to be set up at an alternate location. Hopes are it debuts in 2018. [NYT]