David Hockney’s “Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures)” Hammered for $90.3-M
Thursday evening, an iconic Y 1972 painting by British artist David Hockney, 81 anni, hammered for $90.3-M at Christie’s besting the record for the highest price ever paid at auction for a work by a living artist.
With Christie’s commission, “Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures),” surpassed the auction house’s pre-sale estimate of about $80-M, following a bidding war between 2 determined buyers once the work hit $70-M.
The previous record for a work by a living artist was held by Jeff Koons’ sculpture “Balloon Dog,” which sold for $58.4-M in Y 2013.
Mr. Hockney’s previous auction record was at $28.4-M.
The Y 1972 work by the famed British artist, is 1 of his most famous paintings, it depicts a man in a pink jacket looking down on another figure swimming underwater in a pool, was reported to have been consigned by British billionaire currency trader Joe Lewis.
Christie’s did not identify the seller or the successful bidder, who was bidding via telephone during a nearly 10-min contest for the work.
Morgan Long, senior director of art investment house Fine Art Group, hailed “a great result for Christie’s,” saying it achieved its predicted $80-M price “through a combination of keen marketing and what looked like sheer determination on the part of a phone client to take the painting home.”
In a virtually unprecedented move for such a valuable painting, “Portrait of an Artist,” which was on exhibition at Tate Britain, the Pompidou Centre and New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art over the past 2 years, was sold with no reserve, the minimum price at which the consignor agrees to sell a piece.
The price went far to boost the success of Christie’s post-war and contemporary art auction, which took in a total of $357.6-M, roughly the middle of its expected range, with 41 of the 48 lots on offer sold through.
“What we have learned from this week is that demand for great art remains global, with strong participation from American bidders and good activity from Europe and Asia,” CEO Guillaume Cerutti said after the sale.
Other sale highlights included Francis Bacon’s “Study of Henrietta Moraes Laughing,” which sold for $21.7-M against a pre-sale estimate of $14 to 18-M, and Alexander Calder’s “21 Feuilles Blanches,” which more than 2X’d its high estimate, selling for just under $18-M.
Note: I met David Hockney in Y 1976 at a private reception at a friend’s home in Beverly Hill, his pictures were hanging in the living room.
Have a terrific weekend.
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