Malibu Seen: Art With An Edge

Art connoisseur Eli Broad poses with his 20th century treasures, including one of his famous “Balloon Dogs” by Jeff Koons 

There are two Malibu men, Eli Broad and David Geffen (together with Broad’s talented wife Edye), who have almost singlehandedly transformed the city’s cultural vibe and put it on solid international footing. Both have shiny new museums to their names with all the buzz of a Pollock canvas.

Longtime Malibu resident Geffen is a leader in the arts community and this year his Geffen Contemporary (part of MOCA) is honoring Jeff Koons. The artist is a big name in the modern art world, known for his far out creations and vibrantly colored metallic work. It will be a colorful celebration of Koons’ creations, including a stunning array of his paintings and sculptures.

On April 29, MOCA selects Koons to be its man of the hour — not only for his artistic contributions, but also for his contribution as a philanthropist. He has been a generous benefactor to MOCA. In the past five years he has brought in more than $5 million, to the delight of museum curators who said he is “among the most innovative and forward thinking sculptors of our time.”

According to MOCA Director Phillippe Vergne, patrons and art lovers “rarely consider artists in their role as philanthropists. They give a great deal to institutions by donating their work to collections, by giving their work to benefit to benefit auctions and by writing checks. However, they are seldom recognized in this capacity.”

Koons is world-renowned with his works in museums the world over and in private collections like that of Malibu residents Edye and Eli Broad. 

Vergne adds “Jeff has shown a remarkable generosity to MOCA and this our chance to say, ‘Thank you,’ and celebrate his monumental contributions to culture and his unsung philanthropy, and by supporting MOCA, Jeff Koons supports all the artists the museum works with. He makes experimentation and risk taking possible and he always allows us to stay ahead.”

And his works are among the most sought after in contemporary art. At a 2012 auction at Christie’s in New York, a sculpture in his “Tulips” editioned work sold for $33.7 million and the prices just keep going up. That’s good for collectors like the Broads as well as the Geffen. His sculpture “Gazing Ball (Centaur and Lapith Maiden)” sold at the museum’s 2015 benefit. 

The dog series is one of the artist’s most famous works. 

Three balloon dogs will be on view at the celebration gala. Get gussied up and step out at the Geffen celebration and you can discover the yellow “Balloon Dog,” the magenta “Balloon Dog” and the Orange “Balloon Dog.”

There’s also his limited edition “Balloon Dog” plates, which have generated about $3.5 million for the museum so far — and for art lovers — that’s something to howl about!

This story has been updated to reflect requested corrections.