David Hockney, the celebrated British painter of saturated canvas, could become the most expensive living artist at auction this year, probably over next season sales.
Boomerang reported that Hockney’s “Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures)” is said to be offered for sale at auction by billionaire Joe Lewis ( who has built a $5.5 billion fortune, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index). Lewis is aiming to gain at least $80 million for the work, according to people with direct knowledge of the matter. The reason for putting forwards this demand is that the work in question is a very iconic piece, depicting one of the artist well known “pools”.
The hilly landscape behind them was inspired by the South of France, while one of the subjects standing on the edge of the pool is Peter Schlesinger, an Hockney’s ex-boyfriend.
This work was recently exhibited in Hockney’s retrospective at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where it was also on loan from Lewis. A small study for the same scene already fetched $2.1 million in 2016.
The current highest price for a living artist is $58.4 million for Jeff Koons’s orange balloon dog. But it’s very likely to be overcome soon by next Hockney record!
Christie’s, Sotheby’s and Phillips have been approached, with Christie’s the front-runner, but said the people, who asked not to be identified because the consignment hasn’t been formally announced.