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Jeff Koons’ ‘Popeye’ strikes a pose inside the Wynn

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Jeff Koons’ “Popeye” at the Wynn.
Photo: Barbara Kraft

He glistens. Flanked by security guards, cordoned off by velvet ropes, surrounded by wide-eyed fans basking in this colorful surprise, “Popeye” positively shines.

The Jeff Koons sculpture, bought by Steve Wynn at a Sotheby’s auction for $28.2 million in May, is 6-foot-5 inches, 2,000 pounds of mirror-polished stainless steel and one of just three iterations of the famous cartoon character created by the renowned artist.

This month, “Popeye” took up residence inside the Wynn’s shopping esplanade, where he’s something of an unexpected artistic treat for tourists trotting past names like Chanel, Brioni and McQueen, not expecting Koons smack-dab in the middle, glowing like the world’s coolest Christmas ornament.

I wonder what Popeye would make of his new digs. After all, the sailor man is something of a blue-collar hero, what with his perpetual pipe, bulging muscles, high-spinach diet and life on the open seas. What would he think of his fashionable neighbors, of the countless tourist selfies, of spending all day gazing upon the doorway to Bartolotta, where Mediterranean sea creatures are given star treatment (perhaps with a side of leafy greens)?

Maybe he’d furrow his brow and puff on that pipe. Or maybe he’d chug the can of spinach in his fist, ditch that security detail and ask for directions to Encore Beach Club.

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Sarah Feldberg is the editor of Las Vegas Weekly magazine. A veteran journalist, Feldberg previously worked as the Weekly's web ...

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