David Hockney fetches $90 million at auction, smashing record for living artist

Hockney’s 1972 work ‘Portrait of an Artist’ (Pool with Two Figures), has been sold for $90 million (£70 million), at Christie’s in New York on Thursday. Hockney’s selling price is the auction record for a living artist.

The painting, which shows two men, one doing the breaststroke in the pool, whilst the other watches on from the side, was inspired by two photographs found by Hockney, 81, on his studio floor. One is of a Hollywood swimmer in 1966 and another of a boy who is staring an item on the ground.

Hockney’s former partner Peter Schelesinger, whom he met in 1966 whilst teaching art in California, is meant to be represented by the standing figure. Starting the piece in 1971, the pair had already started going their separate ways.

Rotter, co-chairman of post-war and contemporary art at Christie’s in New York, told Associated Press in September that this is “the holy grail” of Hockney’s work… “It has all the elements that you would want in a Hockney painting… The California landscape, the beautiful trees and flowers and the sky, and then what we know him most for, which is the pool.”