Hockney sells for USD 90.3 million, smashes record

New York: A masterful swimming pool painting by British legend David Hockney sold for $90.3 million in New York on Thursday, smashing a new auction record for a living artist. “Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures)” was snapped up after more than nine minutes of bidding, dominated by two rival telephone bidders.

It left for dust the previous record held by American artist Jeff Koons and his “Balloon Dog (Orange),” which sold for $58.4 million at Christie’s in 2013. It was standing room only to watch history in the making in the packed sales room at Christie’s, where applause broke out when the epic sale concluded, the painting hammering for $80 million.

The buyer’s premium and commission took the final price for the canvas, which adorned the wall of the bidding room, to $90,312,500, the auction house announced. The $90 million 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.

Hockney told the network he thought that was “a lot of money at the time, but within six months it was sold again for $50,000.” Thursday’s price was more than three times the 81-year-old’s previous auction record — $28.4 million for “Pacific Coast Highway and Santa Monica” from 1990 at Christie’s great rival, Sotheby’s, in May. “I hope he’s not upset that we sold it for so much money,” Alex Rotter, Christie’s co-chairman of post-war and contemporary art, said.

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