Jeff Koons was born January 21, 1955 in York, Pennsylvania. As a teenager he revered Salvador Dalí, to the extent of visiting him at the St. Regis Hotel in New York City. Koons attended the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the Maryland Institute College of Art, and studied painting. After college he worked as a Wall Street commodities broker, whilst establishing himself as an artist. He gained recognition in the 1980s, and subsequently set up a factory-like studio in a SoHo loft on the corner of Houston and Broadway in New York. This had over 30 staff, each assigned to a different aspect of producing his work—in a similar mode to both Andy Warhol's Factory and many Renaissance artists.
Koons' early work was in the form of conceptual sculpture, one of the best-known being Three Ball 50/50 Tank, 1985, consisting of three basket balls floating in formaldehyde, which half-fills a glass tank.
Koons carefully cultivated his public persona by employing an image consultant— something that at the time was unheard of for a contemporary artist. As an artwork in their own right Koons placed full page advertisements in the main international art magazine featuring photographs of himself surrounded by the trappings of success. During personal appearances and interviews Koons began to refer to himself in the third person.
Koons then moved on to "Statuary", the large stainless-steel blowups of toys, and then a series "Banality", which culminated in 1988 with Michael Jackson and Bubbles—stated to be the world's largest ceramic—a life-size gold-leaf plated statue of the sitting singer cuddling Bubbles, his pet chimpanzee. Three years later it sold at Sotheby's New York as Lot 7655 for $5,600,000, tripling Koons' previous sale record. The statue was acquired in 2002 by the Astrup Fearnley Museum of Contemporary Art in Oslo, Norway, and was exhibited there. It is now at BCAM, Los Angeles.