Published: Fri, November 16, 2018
Life&Culture | By Sue Mclaughlin

David Hockney painting auctions for record $90M

David Hockney painting auctions for record $90M

A celebrated painting by British artist David Hockney has been sold at Christie's in NY for just over $90m (£70m) - an auction record for a work by a living artist.

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.

The painting depicts two men _ one swimming the breaststroke underwater, the other standing by the pool looking down.

The previous record for a work by a living artist was set by American Jeff Koons for one of his Balloon Dog sculptures which sold for $58.4m (£45.6m) in 2013.

"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.

The composition of the two figures began as two separate photographs on the artist's studio floor and was completed in time for an exhibition at New York's André Emmerich Gallery in 1972.

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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.

The rocky landscape is in southern France, and the standing figure is said to represent Peter Schlesinger, whom the artist met in 1966, when the younger man was a student in one of Hockney's art classes at UCLA.

But Bloomberg and the Artnet website reported that it was put up for sale by British billionaire Joe Lewis, who owns the Tavistock Group, London Premier League football team Tottenham Hotspur, and whom Forbes estimates to be worth $5bn.

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

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