A British currency trader turned billionaire just catapulted David Hockney to status as the world's most expensive living artist after selling one of Hockney's most famous works for a record $US90.3 million. His current auction record stands at $28.5 million. Hockney's sold his painting for $18,000 in 1972.
The new owner of the $90 million painting at the auction is a private collector called Marc Porter. That is an unconventional approach because bidding technically can start at US$1. After it was announced last week, "everyone was ringing to leave a bid", said Christie's President Jussi Pylkkanen, the evening's auctioneer.
The painting was bought by a client of Marc Porter, chairman of Christie's Americas. But the scene depicted is actually in the South of France, not the Hollywood Hills.The pool itself is from filmmaker Tony Richardson's villa there.
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.
For the next five years, according to Christie's, Mr Schlesinger was both "the great love of Hockney's life" and one of his favourite models. The idea for the painting struck Hockney after two other paintings in his studio in Powis Terrace, Notting Hill, became juxtaposed in his mind. "Freud is a passion of his".
"We rarely can say, "This is the one opportunity to buy the best painting from the artist"," Ana Maria Celis, vice president of post-war and contemporary art at Christie's had said before the sale. A similar auction previous year brought in $785.9 million, including Leonardo Da Vinci's "Salvator Mundi", which sold for $450 million. Auctions of lower-priced art continue Friday at Christie's.