How Jeff Koons’ gift to Paris is riddled with problems

It was announced in November with fanfare. Jeff Koons would donate a monumental sculpture, a hand holding a bouquet of balloon tulips, to the city of Paris to honor victims of the 2015 terrorist attacks here. The brainchild of the U.S. ambassador to France, it was a gift the city could hardly refuse.

Seven months later, the project is caught up in delays. A private foundation has taken longer than it expected to raise the estimated 3.5 million euros ($3.9 million) needed to make and install the work, which is more than 40 feet high. (Koons donated the concept, not the construction.) And although the plaza Koons selected for display of Bouquet of Tulips provides a view of the Eiffel Tower in the distance, the pavement isn’t strong enough to support the sculpture.

“It’s a very difficult work to install, it’s 30 tons, and at the moment we’re facing a lot of technical problems,” said Jean de Loisy, president of the Palais de Tokyo, one of two contemporary art museums that share a building and the plaza where the sculpture is expected to land permanently in the city’s 16th Arrondissement.

He said that he appreciated the project and Koons’ art but was reluctant to alter underground exhibition rooms by installing pillars that would support the sculpture. Still, despite the complexities, de Loisy added that he was “very confident” the problems would be resolved.

Koons offering the ‘Bouquet of Tulips’ to the City of Paris, which is yet to be installed in the plaza in front of the Museum of Modern Art and the Palais de Tokyo (Getty)

The gift was arranged between the former U.S. ambassador to France and Monaco, Jane D. Hartley, and the mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, to honor French-American friendship and to help boost tourism in a city that lives with the constant threat of terrorist attacks. The announcement was rushed in November, before Hartley, an appointee of President Barack Obama, left Paris, but also before the permits and…

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