The Adventures of Shrubbery Man

in Culture by


Back in the year 2000, my wife had a job
at a law firm in Rockefeller Center and in the plaza there
there was a giant bush in the shape of a dog
and I said “You’ve got some adorable shrubbery here in Rockefeller Center”
and she said, “It’s not shrubbery, it’s art”
and I said, “Oh, excuse me, I thought it was shrubbery”
and she elucidated for me the fine distinctions between art and shrubbery
and I learned that the name of this work of art was “Puppy”
and the name of the artist was Jeff Koons
but in our household he will always be
Shrubbery Man.


In 2016 Shrubbery Man gave a work of art called
“Bouquet of Tulips” to the City of Paris as a gift
that the City of Paris had to pay 3.5 million Euros for.
“Hey, wait a minute,” I said. “I thought when it’s a gift, that means you don’t have to pay for it.”
“Well, it depends on who’s giving the gift,” my wife explained patiently.
“If a famous artist is giving it, you have to pay 3.5 million Euros
for the privilege of receiving such a prestigious gift,
but if a common proletariat like yourself is giving it, you don’t have to pay anything and
please keep that distinction in mind when my birthday comes around because
I am not going to pay 3.5 million Euros for a birthday gift and,
to be perfectly honest,
I wouldn’t even pay one million Euros for a birthday gift from you.
(It doesn’t mean I don’t love you.)”
On her next birthday, I gave her a cast iron frying pan in a box
and on the outside of the box there was a label that said
“Free Gift”
and she seemed to appreciate it.
(Ours is a happy marriage.)


On May 15, 2019, a shiny steel bunny rabbit by Shrubbery Man called
“Rabbit” was sold at a Christie’s auction for 91.1 million dollars,
breaking the world record for the most expensive work of art by a living artist
that had previously been held by David Hockney’s “Portrait of an Artist” at 90.2 million dollars,
and I said “Wow! That’s a lot of money for a bunny rabbit”
and my wife said “Well, what do you expect? It’s a very shiny bunny rabbit”
and then I learned that the purchaser was Robert Mnuchin,
who happens to be the father of Steven Mnuchin,
Secretary of the Treasury of the United States,
and suddenly everything started to make sense.
(Stay tuned for further adventures of Shrubbery Man.)



Pesach Rotem was born and raised in New York and now lives in the village of Yodfat in northern Israel. He received his B.A. from Princeton University and his J.D. from St. John’s University.


Jeff Koons: Puppy
[Public Art Fund]

Steve Mnuchin’s Dad Bought Jeff Koons’ ‘Rabbit’ for Record-Smashing $91M