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Sotheby's eyeing $25 million for Jeff Koons' 'Popeye'

"Popeye" by Jeff Koons
Sotheby's New York

One of the most iconic animated characters in American pop culture is Popeye, the muscular, spinach-eating sailor man who has appeared in TV cartoons and comic strips since 1929. In his 85-year existence, Popeye has charmed audiences with his energy and high-pitched singing voice, and lately has even captured the attention of sculptor Jeff Koons.

In 2009, Koons began work on a six-and-a-half foot tall, stainless steel reproduction of the beloved character that was completed in 2011. In this impressive work, Popeye wearing his trademark sailor hat, is holding a can of spinach in one hand and flexing his famously bulging muscles with his other arm. The piece will go on sale at a Sotheby’s auction next month in New York with an estimate of $25 million.

Koons is best known for his imaginative sculptures of cartoonish characters and ordinary objects and has achieved huge financial success. In November, his 12-foot stainless steel Balloon Dog (Orange) sculpture sold at Christie’s for $58.4 million, becoming the highest-priced work by a living artist ever sold at auction. Balloon Dog is part of a series of five sculptures each painted in a different color.

Other series of animal sculptures by Koons include Balloon Swan, Balloon Monkey, and Balloon Rabbit among others. Koons currently lives and works in New York City, and York, Penn. The auction will be held May 14th at Sotheby's New York, 1334 York Ave. (212) 606-7000