David Hockney Becomes The Most Highly Valued Living Artist

Diana Bell-Heather   |   19-11-2018

David Hockney has taken Jeff Koons crown as the most expensive living artist, after his famed painting sold at auction for over the estimated value of $80 million.


Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures) David Hockney

Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures) 1972 © David Hockney


One of his most famous works Portrait of an Artist (Pool With Two Figures) 1971 was auctioned off at $90.3 million (Dhs 341 million) at Christie’s New York after a nine-minute bidding war with buyers on the phone.


“David Hockney’s brilliance as an artist is on full display with this monumental canvas, which encapsulates the essence of the idealised poolside landscape, and the tremendous complexity that exists within human relationships,” said Alex Rotter, Co-Chairman Post-War and Contemporary Art at Christie’s, in a statement.


Hockney started working on the painting in 1971, but after months of reworking it, it was destroyed. However, in April 1972  he returned to the concept ahead of a planned exhibition at New York’s André Emmerich Gallery, which was due to open just four weeks later.


Armed with his Pentax camera, Hockney travelled to a villa outside Saint-Tropez, where he staged hundreds of photographs following his original composition using an assistant and friend in an idyllic pool setting. Returning to his London studio, he worked 18 hours a days for two weeks solid, finishing the painting the night before the shippers came to transport it to New York.

The 81-year-old Yorkshire born artist now lives in California.