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