After 9 Minutes of Bidding, a Record Is Obliterated

David Hockney masterpiece fetched $90.3M at Christie's auction
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 16, 2018 1:56 AM CST
Renowned British painter David Hockney delivers a speech as he unveils a huge painting he is donating to the Pompidou Center in Paris, "The Arrival of Spring in Woldgate, East Yorkshire.", in Paris, France,...   (AP photo/Francois Mori)
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(Newser) – The record for the most expensive work by a living artist sold at auction was blown out of the water Thursday when David Hockney's "Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures)" sold for a staggering $90.3 million. After nine minutes of bidding at Christie's in New York —dominated by two phone bidders—the 81-year-old British artist's masterpiece hit the pre-sale estimate of $80 million, the Guardian reports. Fees brought the price up to $90.3 million. The buyer was not identified, while the seller is widely believed to be Bahamas-based British billionaire Joe Lewis. Christie's called the painting "one of the great masterpieces of the modern era."

The 1972 painting depicts Peter Schlesinger, Hockney's former lover, and was created in a flurry of activity after their brief relationship ended. Ian Alteveer, who curated the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Hockney show, tells the New York Times that the painting marks a shift in Hockney's portrayal of water and the culmination of his double portraits. "It’s also a farewell to the relationship, which had come to an end, and this grand statement about his interest in the psychology between two people that he’s been trying to capture," Alteveer says. The sale broke a record set in 2013, when Jeff Koons' "Balloon Dog (Orange)" sold for $58.4 million. (The record for the most expensive artwork ever sold at auction was broken a year ago.)

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