Hockney sells for $90 million setting living artist record

Sergio Cunningham
November 16, 2018

A painting by English artist David Hockney sold for $90.3 million during an auction at Christie's in Manhattan on Thursday.

Hockney's painting was sold at a Christie's auction in NY with the painting having increased in value from the modest $18,000 that Hackney's NY dealer fetched for it in 1972.

The sale eclipsed the previous record held by USA artist Jeff Koons.

Portrait of an Artist was sold to an unknown buyer and the identity of the seller is also unconfirmed.

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

One of Hockney's most celebrated works, it has featured on the cover of a number of monographs about the artist and was part of an worldwide retrospective that celebrated his 80th birthday in 2017.

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Christie's described it as "one of the great masterpieces of the modern era".

The $90m price tag was all the more astonishing given the roughly $20,000 that Hockney told CNN his dealer originally sold the painting for in 1972, subsequently believing it had been undervalued. It is one of the 81-year-old artist's "pool paintings" and is considered one of his premier works.

The standing man is Peter Schlesinger, an artist and Hockney's ex-lover. After a break, he resumed the piece the following year.

"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.

Hockney's sold his painting for $18,000 in 1972.

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