The City of Sacramento and the Kings announced last week that the plaza at the new ESC (Entertainment and Sports Center) will feature an original sculpture from world-renowned artist Jeff Koons. The $8 million work of art will be part of the artist’s Coloring Book series and is described as “a towering design of stainless steel” intended to capture “a child’s ecstatic enjoyment of the world,” according to a press release from the city. This will mark the first time a Koons piece has been purchased by a municipality to be displayed permanently. The sculpture will be paid for with $5.5 million of the ESC’s construction budget that the city and the Kings announced last year would be invested in the Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission’s (SMAC) “Arts in Public Places” program, as well as an additional $3 million in donations from Kings owner and chairman Vivek Ranadivé, Envision Pharmaceutical Holdings, Inc. founder Kevin Nagle and Buzz Oates Group of Companies chairman Phil Oates.

Jeff Koons, who was born in York, Pennsylvania. in 1955, is easily one of the most iconic living names in the art world. His unmistakable work can be seen in major museums and institutions all over the globe, including the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and many others. In 2013 one of his sculptures, Balloon Dog (Orange), sold at an auction for $58.4 million, the highest amount of money ever paid for a work of art from a living artist. Château de Versailles (The Palace of Versailles) opened its doors to a living artist for the first time ever with Jeff Koons: Versailles, where some of his work was displayed within the Grand Apartments. He’s received many awards and recognitions for his artwork and cultural contributions; most recently, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton honored Koons with the State Department’s “Medal of the Arts” for his outstanding commitment to the Art in Embassies Program and international cultural exchange.

So yeah, you could say that landing a Koons piece for the new downtown Sacramento arena is sort of a big deal, and the artist seems to be excited about it too. “With all of the excitement around the new arena, I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to have my work prominently displayed in Sacramento,” Koons is quoted in the press release. “Over the years I’ve spent a lot of time in Sacramento, from discovering the downtown area to visiting the train museum for inspiration. To have Coloring Book interact with the vibrancy of the city and its citizens is going to be fantastic.”

Not to be overshadowed by all the hype surrounding the Koons piece, it was also announced that $1.5 million will be invested into commissioning regional art for the ESC, with $1 million of that being gifted by Sacramento philanthropist and artist Marcy Friedman. The other $500,000 will come out of the ESC construction budget. The process for selecting which local artists will be involved in the project starts after the City Council approves Koons’ contract; the vote is expected to happen on March 10. “The Sacramento region has long been an incubator for artists that have earned both national and international prominence,” said Friedman in the release. “Ensuring that the ESC reflects the voice of the regional art community will guarantee, through artistic expression, the unique character of Sacramento.” To read more and to see high-resolution renderings of the Koons piece, visit To learn more about the artist and to see some of his past work, visit

    Jonathan Carabba

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