David Hockney painting auctions for record $90M

David Hockney painting auctions for record $90M

A David Hockney painting has broken the record for the most expensive work from a living artist sold at auction.

It emphatically surpassed the previous record for a work by a living artist, which was held by American Jeff Koons for one of his Balloon Dog sculptures which sold for £45.6 million in 2013.

Christie's did not identify the seller or the successful bidder, who was bidding via telephone during a almost 10-minute contest for the work.

It was standing room only in the packed sales room at Christie's in NY, where a smattering of applause broke out when the sale concluded, the painting hammering for $80 million.

Working 18-hour days for a solid two weeks before the show, Hockney has recalled he "literally finished the painting the night before it had to be sent off to the exhibition".

A depiction of two men - one swimming the breaststroke underwater, the other standing by the pool looking down - the painting was originally inspired, according to background provided by Christie's, by two photographs Hockney found juxtaposed on his studio floor, one of a swimmer in Hollywood in 1966, and another of a boy staring at something on the ground.

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The first man depicts Hockney's former lover and muse, Peter Schlesinger, who was one of his students at the University of California, Los Angeles.

The Hockney work was painted in 1972 and is one of the Yorkshire artist's most recognisable works.

Christie's did not name either the seller or the successful bidder.

The previous record was held by American artist Jeff Koons, whose massive, stainless steel piece Balloon Dog (Orange) sold for $58.4 million USA at a Christie's NY auction in November 2013.

The Hockney had been taken on tour to drive up potential buyer interest, in Hong Kong, London and Los Angeles.

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