David Hockney's Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures) - perhaps the most recognized piece in the English painter's swimming pool series - fetched $90 million U.S. at Christie's NY auction on Thursday, becoming the most expensive work sold by a living artist.
British artist Hockney, 81, was inspired to paint the picture by two photographs he found on his studio floor, one of a swimmer in Hollywood in 1966 and another of a boy staring at an item on the ground.
Hockney's painting was sold at a Christie's auction in NY with the painting having increased in value from the modest $18,000 that Hackney's NY dealer fetched for it in 1972.
There's a new record for a painting by a living artist.
The previous record by a living artist was held by Jeff Koons, whose "Balloon Dog" sculpture sold for $58.4 million at Christies in 2013.
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Alex Rotter, co-chairman of post-war and contemporary art at Christie's in NY, told the Associated Press in September that it is "the holy grail" of Hockney's work. One, fully clothed, stands at the edge of a swimming pool gazing down at another, who is submerged.
He said: "It has all the elements that you would want in a Hockney painting". It has been long held by a private collector.
Christie's had estimated the 1972 oil painting at $80 million and called the Hockney "one of the great masterpieces of the modern era".
More is known about the creation of "Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures)" than virtually any other single Hockney painting.
The observer depicts Hockney's former lover and muse, Peter Schlesinger, one of his students at the University of California, Los Angeles.