I think this is quite a good discussion that is not related to only Koons, but also other artists. For me Warhol would not have been able to get away with the factory aspect had it not been part of his critique on art and thus part of his art and legacy in general. Now it seems that once you reach a certain level in your creative process the factory takes over and the hand of the artist lifts drinks at openings and signs books, after it has made the brand. Warhol wanted to make art available to the masses which was revolutionary now the masses want anything koons or banksy or murakami or kaws because it has been accepted as available. To me it's no different than the person that buys a gucci keychain because they want to say they shop at gucci.
I read once that Damien Hirst was influenced by Jeff Koons, but after reading this two page thread I noticed that the BMW car (at least the front) resembled the Hirst spin art paintings, and the Pill Cabinet was also similar to the pill pieces that Hirst made. So who is influencing who? I guess Koons could have made spin art first as this was common at State Fairs/County Fairs around the country in the 60s and 70s.
As a kid, I made the best spin art at the CA State Fair. ;D
Actually i think that this particular series of Koons' work wasn't even done by assistants or even in his studio. He often employed the services of second rate artisans who would otherwise have been making tat for tourists. Personally I think that it's the employment of these techniques that makes his work interesting as it questions authenticity. But by the same premise it's of its time, a time when authenticity was in short supply. We've become much more aware of it in recent times and strive for authenticity wherever we can, often perversely charged through the nose for it. But these changing and reactionary attitudes can make Koons look out dated and tacky. I believe that in the long run and with hindsight he will continue to be considered an extremely important artist.
I was fortunate enough to catch this show recently whilst on a short stop in NYC (thanks for all the recommendations Mose) and I have to say that I was dumbstruck. Truly magnificent. What was annoying but equally compelling was the urge to touch the sculptural works from the perspective of appearing so tactile and off course to confirm the elusion you mind understands but yours eyes do not believe. Obviously a big no given the fact the larger works came in at $20m and were all re-sold.