Joel Silver Sues Gallery Over $8 Million Jeff Koons ‘Balloon Venus’ Sculpture

Producer says completion of the artwork he ordered has been delayed by years, and he wants his money back — and then some

Last Updated: April 30, 2018 @ 5:59 PM

Who says that entertainment-industry bigwigs don’t have the same problems as the rest of us?

Film producer Joel Silver has filed a lawsuit against a gallery, saying that he agreed to pay $8 million for a Jeff Koons “Balloon Venus” sculpture, saying that completion of the sculpture has been delayed by years.

Silver, whose credits include the “Lethal Weapon” and “Die Hard” films, is asking for the $3.2 million he says he’s already paid for the sculpture, and then some.

In his suit, filed against Gagosian Gallery in New York Supreme Court on Friday, Silver says that he initially purchased the statue in February 2014, with an estimated completion of June 2017.

Silver says that, in January 2017, “long after” he had shelled out $3.2 million in payments for the artwork, the gallery told him that the estimated completion date had been bumped up to July 2019, at which point he asked for his money back. However, the suit says the gallery “threatened instead to forfeit” the $3.2 million unless he continued to make payments on a revised schedule, and the producer agreed to a modified agreement, which provided for three payments of $1.6 million made on or before the estimated delivery date of December 2020.

Silver didn’t make the first such payment in early 2018, the suit says, after which the gallery again threatened to forfeit the $3.2 million Silver says he already paid. Silver, according to the suit, offered to put $2.4 million in an escrow account, which would be released, along with the remaining $2.4 million owed, upon delivery and completion of the sculpture, but according to the suit the gallery rejected the offer and insisted that he pay the $1.6 million payment instead.

The lawsuit states that a similar complaint was filed against the Gagosian Gallery on April 19 by Steven Tananbaum, which Silver’s suit says “revealed that the Gagosian Gallery had deployed the same coercive tactics against Mr. Tananbaum that it used against Plaintiff Silver.”

“Mr. Koons has become a world-renowned artist because he approaches each piece with utmost integrity and attention to detail. He produces large, complex pieces of art that require master craftsmanship and take time to execute. Because of the unusual process used to create his pieces, and his impeccable standards for completion, his contracts for sale specifically state that the delivery dates are only estimates,” a gallery spokesperson told TheWrap in a statement Monday. “For more than 30 years Jeff Koons has been creating works of art and to our knowledge, without exception, has never failed to deliver these works and always to the enormous satisfaction of the collector. Progress is being made on the pieces at issue in these litigations, and as always they will be delivered upon completion.”

Alleging violation of Article 13 of New York’s Arts and Cultural Affairs Law, the suit is asking for the $3.2 million back, plus interest, as well as treble damages “in the amount of $6.6 million.”

Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.