British painter David Hockney, 81, has just become the most expensive living artist after one of his paintings sold for US$90.3 million (£70.4 million).
Portrait Of An Artist (Pool With Two Figures) sold at a Christie’s auction in New York City on Thursday (15 November).
The sale broke Jeff Koons’ record US$58.4 million sale in 2013 of his painting Ballon Dog (Orange).
Currency trader and owner of soccer club Tottenham Hotspur, Joe Lewis, owned the painting before putting it up for auction. Lewis bought the iconic painting in 1995 from record label owner and producer, David Geffen.
Christie’s described the 1972 painting as ‘one of the great masterpieces of the modern era’. It has become one of Hockney’s most recognizable paintings.
The painting depicts two men who of which is Hockney’s ex-lover, Peter Schlesinger. One of the men is fully clothed standing at the edge of a swimming pool looking down at the other man who is submerged in white trunks. Behind them a hilly landscape depicts the south of France.
Art dealer Stephen Howes told the BBC the painting was ‘truly one of the most iconic paintings of the 20th Century’. Its sale ‘galvanizes the piece’s rightful place as a true masterpiece and further cements Hockney’s place in the highest echelons of art history’.
Born in Yorkshire, Hockney became one of the most important figures in the 20th century pop art movement.
Hockney splits his time between London and California where he owns two residences. It was on some of his first trips to Los Angeles that he got inspiration for the painting.
‘The Yorkshireman was in his mid-twenties, and the city’s private backyard swimming pools provided him with a space in which he was free to explore the male figure — in both real and pictorial terms,’ Christie’s wrote on its website.
Last year, an Hockney retrospective at the Tate Britain in London broke attendance records with more than 478,000 people visiting the exhibition.