Hockney painting sells for $90 million, sets living artist record


David Hockney painting auctions for record $90M

A painting by David Hockney has sold for $90.3m (£70m) in NY, breaking the record for a work by a living artist sold at auction.

Christie's did not identify the seller or the successful bidder, who was bidding via telephone during a almost 10-minute contest for the work.

It emphatically surpassed the previous record for a work by a living artist, which was held by American Jeff Koons for one of his Balloon Dog sculptures which sold for £45.6 million in 2013.

The packed sales room in NY broke into applause when the hammer fell, with the buyer's premium and commission taking the final price to $90.3m.

In the picture, a smartly dressed man, standing on the edge of the pool, looks pensively at another figure swimming toward him in glistening waters, with an idyllic mountain view in the background.

"We rarely can say, "This is the one opportunity to buy the best painting from the artist", Ana Maria Celis, vice president of post-war and contemporary art at Christie's had said before the sale.

"One was of a figure swimming underwater and therefore quite distorted ... the other was a boy gazing at something on the ground", Hockney said.

The standing man is Peter Schlesinger, an artist and Hockney's ex-lover.

Christie's did not name either the seller or the successful bidder.

Hockney's 1972 work Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures) was described by Christie's in NY as "the holy grail of his paintings, from both the historical and the market perspectives" before it went under the hammer.

The Hockney work was painted in 1972 and is one of the Yorkshire artist's most recognisable works.

His career took off after he moved to Los Angeles in the 60s.

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