art and excess: $1M Red Tibetan Mastiff vs. Jeff Koons’ Puppy

A multi-millionaire coal baron in China just bought “Big Splash”, a red Tibetan Mastiff, for $1.5 million because “they have become highly-prized status symbols for China’s new rich.” The dogs are thought to be a pure “Chinese” breed and they are rarely found outside Tibet, giving them an exclusivity that other breeds cannot match. Translation: this mobile conversation piece is a sickly inbred dog from the mother of all “bubble breeds” Compared with most pure breeds, mutts from the pound are the six million dollar man: stronger, smarter, longer-lived. Genetic diversity rules.

Big Splash’s weird color and 180-lb heft will impress other billionaires , but is no match for Jeff Koon’s “Puppy,” a sui generis symbol, according to Koons, of “love, warmth and happiness”. One of the litter costs Stephanie Seymour’s ex-husband $100,000 a year in flowers to maintain. I love this  this non-review of “Puppy” by Peter Schjeldah in The New Yorker:

I remember my first encounter, in Germany, in 1992, with Koons’s famous “Puppy,” the forty-three-foot-high Scottie dog enveloped in living flowers. As I was judiciously taking descriptive and analytical notes, a bus arrived bearing a group of severely disabled children in wheelchairs. They went wild with delight. Abruptly feeling absurd, I shut my notebook and took instruction from the kids’ unequivocal verdict.

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