When it comes to Jeff Koons, the Whitney Museum certainly knows how to create excitement, as anyone who attended the mobbed opening festivities of his retrospective there last month can attest. The frenzy continued last week, when on July 15 the museum’s members received an exclusive, special-offer email: They could buy a limited edition black leather Jeff Koons handbag, “featuring an image of Balloon Dog (Yellow)” from July 17 through July 19, it said. “Purchases are limited to two per customer and supplies are extremely limited.” The price: $49.50.
Read on a little, though, and members soon discovered that the 9.5- by 7.5-inch bag was available to customers of H&M, the fashion retail sponsor of the Koons exhibit, that same day – both in stores and online. Anyone could buy one at the Whitney from July 20 on, too. And, the bags would be a key offering of H&M’s new “museum-inspired” flagship store on 5th Avenue in Manhattan, which opened at noon on July 17. Its façade was emblazoned with an image of Balloon Dog (Yellow).
No matter: the Whitney, playing on scarcity fears, easily sold out its 500 bags in short order. They didn’t last 48 hours. But on Friday, several were selling on eBay, at prices ranging from about $70 to $495.