KAWS’ giant BFF has turned a Hercules Campus courtyard into a growing tourist attraction
By Shanee Edwards
Looking for a new best friend? You’re in luck! Your new BFF has just moved to Playa Vista and is ready to hang out. Sure, BFF is electric blue, has x’d-out eyes on top of his head, weighs 15,000 pounds and is over 26 feet tall; nevertheless, he’s here to stay.
“I don’t plan to move it,” Ed Minskoff, president of the real estate acquisition and development company Edward J. Minskoff Equities, says about the gigantic art installation created by the celebrated artist known as KAWS.
So how exactly did BFF get to the courtyard just off Bluff Creek Drive? Minskoff says putting art in public spaces is a priority for him. Bold, graphic, surprising installations are displayed at all his buildings, like the 14-foot candy apple red balloon rabbit by Jeff Koons at 51 Astor Place in Manhattan.
Minskoff owns a number of other works created by Brooklyn artist KAWS, a.k.a. Brian Donnelly, and considers the artist to be a good friend. But he thought BFF was an especially great fit for Playa Vista.
“BFF has a lot of humor in it,” says Minskoff. “I first saw it in the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth and thought it was a pretty cool piece. I asked Brian about it and he said he would sell it to me, so that’s how it ended up in Playa Vista.”
Sounds like a simple enough transaction, but at the time of the sale BFF had been temporarily on display in Bangkok, Thailand, and had to be shipped — in pieces — to The Bluffs at Playa Vista, Minskoff’s 500,000-square-foot creative office property in the southeast corner of the Hercules Campus. LEED Gold-certified for environmental sustainability, The Bluffs at Playa Vista (12121 and 12181 Bluff Creek Drive) house CPK’s corporate headquarters, Fox Sports Interactive, The Rubicon Project, Science 37 and the popular breakfast joint Hash.
“Once it was here,” says Sherry Mashadian, senior property manager for EJM Equities in Playa Vista, “it was housed and repainted. We had to redo the rotunda to ensure it could support 15,000 pounds. Then there was the waterproofing and water testing.”
Mashadian says the entire process took about six months, but the installation took just two days. First came the legs and body, then concrete was poured into BFF’s feet. After that cured for about a week, they added the arms and head.
It was a lot of work, but she says the work was worth it because BFF makes people happy.
“When you come in and see this big blue guy, how can you not smile?”
When Mashadian takes me to an open-air bridge across from BFF, she laughs when she sees someone has taped a small photo of BFF onto the railing – only, in the photo, BFF is standing in front of a different background. “That’s when he was in Thailand!” she says.
According to Mashadian, BFF has become quite the tourist attraction for art enthusiasts and fans of KAWS. Many people who own doll-sized versions of BFF bring them to take photos with its towering twin.
“We’re in a very creative location, so having something so dynamic in front of your building is great,” says Mashadian. But like any true best friend, she says BFF can occasionally cause headaches.
“I’m always saying to people ‘Don’t touch him!’ It’s art, not something you can just touch. One person actually sat on him. I told him to get off the platform because he could fall.”
Stanchions and a sign warning not to touch BFF will be arriving soon.
Though Mashadian doesn’t consider herself to be overtly artistically minded, she appreciates that Minskoff is.
“Art,” says Mashadian, “is Ed Minskoff’s passion. When you have an owner who’s so enthusiastic and loves art, it makes me so much more proud to have this piece here. I hold it near and dear to my heart because it means so much to him.”
So go ahead, take a selfie. Your new BFF is looking forward to meeting you. Just remember to look, not touch.