WHEN TWO MAJOR PIECES from Jeff Koons’s “Celebration” series, 1994–, came up for auction for the first time last November, a breach was torn in the fabric of the Koons market, not to mention the cultural cosmos. Diamond (Blue), 1994–2005, sold at Christie’s for $11.8 million, more than doubling the highest price ever paid for a Koons work at auction; the following night, Hanging Heart (Magenta/Gold), 1994–2006, sold at Sotheby’s for $23.6 million, making it (as headlines trumpeted) the most expensive piece by a living artist ever auctioned.

Recent private trades for key pieces from “Celebration”—sixteen hyperrealist paintings and twenty oversize sculptures of inflatable animals, childhood toys, and the garish flotsam of holiday revelry—were already known, with a Balloon Dog, 1994–2000, said to have sold for more than $15 million. And though the actual buyers weren’t named, both Diamond (

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