The Galleon - Portsmouth's Student Newspaper



David Hockney painting sells for $90.3m, breaking record for a living artist

The painting has surpassed the previous record for a living artist by more than $30m

The celebrated British artist David Hockney has broken the record for the highest fee paid for a living artist’s work after one of his paintings sold at auction for $90.3m. The previous record was surpassed by more than $30m, eclipsing the $58.4m paid for US artist Jeff Koons’ Balloon Dog (Orange) in 2013.

Hockney’s painting, Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures), was sold to an anonymous telephone bidder after a tense nine minutes of bidding in a Manhattan sales room, revealed auction house Christie’s. The conclusion to the bidding war was met with widespread applause.

The painting, which depicts a man thought to be Hockney’s former love Peter Schlesinger, shows the man thought to be Schlesinger standing by the edge of a swimming pool as another man swims towards him. The backdrop is verdant and pastoral. Christie’s estimated that the piece would command $80m at auction, with the auction house describing the piece as ‘one of the great masterpieces of the modern era’.

Although the buyer remains anonymous, with Christie’s declining to reveal their identity, Bloomberg have reported that Tottenham Hotspur’s billionaire owner, Joe Lewis, was the seller. Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures) has set a new benchmark for the living artist but it remains far behind  the all-time record for a piece of art at auction. Leonardo da Vinci still holds the record by some margin – his piece, Salvator Mundi, sold for a phenomenal $450.3m last year at auction.

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