Christie’s to offer $80m ‘holy grail’ Hockney painting in New York this November

Christie’s announced today (13 September) that it will offer David Hockney’s 1972 painting, Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures), in its evening post-war and contemporary art sale in New York on 15 November. Should it fetch near its estimate of $80m, it will be the highest auction price ever paid for a work by a living artist by some distance—the current record is held by Jeff Koons, whose Balloon Dog (Orange) sold for $58.4m Christie’s New York in 2013.

At nearly double the Koons record, the price tag is punchy. But Alex Rotter, Christie’s co-chairman of post-war and contemporary art department, thinks it warranted, as the painting combines the artist’s most recognised themes: “the glittering abstraction of the pool, and the emotional complexity of the double portrait.”

Surprisingly, given the estimate, the painting is not guaranteed—as yet. Read more