Hockney's pool painting sells for record $90M

Danny Woods
November 16, 2018

History was made in Christie's NY salerooms when David Hockney's seminal Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures) sold for $90,312,500 (£70,227,449), a world record price for a living artist.

Koons, 63, held the title since 2013 when his orange balloon dog sold for US$58.4 million.

The painting was destroyed a few months later but the idea stuck with the Bradford-born artist, who revisited the concept a year later, when he travelled to Saint-Tropez in the south of France with a friend to stage photographs.

Alex Rotter, co-chairman of post-war and contemporary art at Christie's in NY, told the Associated Press in September that it is "the holy grail" of Hockney's work.

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David Hockney's "Portrait of an Artist [Pool with Two Figures]" fetched $90.3 million at Christies on Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018. The artist is famous for painting "swimming pool" pictures and "double portraits". It has been long held by a private collector.

The painting shows two men, one doing the breaststroke under water while the other watches from the side of the pool. The buyer was not immediately revealed.

The standing figure is said to represent Hockney's former partner Peter Schlesinger, whom the British artist met in 1966 while teaching art classes in California. For the next five years, according to Christie's, he was both "the great love of Hockney's life" and one of his favourite models.

Hockney first worked on a similar painting in 1971 after being inspired by two pictures juxtaposed on his studio's floor.

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