Hockney's pool painting sells for record $90M

An auctioneer takes bids for the sale of David Hockney's Portrait of an Artist at Christie's in New York

The buyer's premium of the portrait took the final price to $90,312,500, the auction house announced.

A David Hockney painting has been sold for £70 million, smashing the auction record for a living artist.

The previous record was held by Jeff Koons and his "Balloon Dog (Orange)", which sold for $58.4 million at Christie's in 2013.

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 packed sales room in NY broke into applause when the hammer fell, with the buyer's premium and commission taking the final price to $90.3m.

The 1972 work by the 81-year-old British artist, 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.

"It has all the elements that you would want in a Hockney painting", Rotter said in an interview.

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.

Alex Rotter, co-chairman of post-war and contemporary art at Christie's in NY, said the painting reflects both the European and the United States perspectives of Hockney who went to live in California in the 1960s and saw himself as living on both continents.

Christie's did not name either the seller or the successful bidder.

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 global retrospective that celebrated his 80th birthday in 2017.

Thursday's sale at Christie's flagship post-war and contemporary evening art sale caps the end of the biannual marquee art auctions held every year in November.

The previous record was held by American artist Jeff Koons, whose massive, stainless steel piece Balloon Dog (Orange) sold for $58.4 million USA at a Christie's NY auction in November 2013.

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