Hockney work tipped to bust auction record

David Hockney's pool painting set to sell for record amount for a living artist

A swimming pool painting by David Hockney could become the most valuable work of art by a living artist sold at auction.

Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures) is estimated to be worth $80m (£61m) said Christie's, who are auctioning the painting this November. If it sells in the realm of its estimate, it would also make the 81-year-old highest-performing living artist at auction.

"Christie's is honored to offer Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures), which stands as one of the great masterpieces of the modern era", Rotter, co-chairman of Christie's postwar and contemporary art department, said in a statement released to press.

Anywhere near the estimate, which is almost three times the price of the most expensive Hockney sold at auction, would break the record. He noted that it reflects both the European and the American perspectives of an artist who came to live in California in the '60s, and saw himself as living on both continents. "The California landscape, the handsome trees and flowers and the sky, and then what we know him most for, which is the pool".

According to reports, the painting which depicts a swimming pool is portrayed as being sort of a self-portrait of Hockney, however, he has never confirmed it.

Bloomberg's Katya Kazakina reported last month that the Portrait of an Artist is being sold by billionaire Joe Lewis, a currency trader who holds a collection boasting names like Picasso, Matisse, Bacon, and Freud.

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The relationship ended in 1971.

The painting dates back to the year that Hockney and Schlesinger split, and the swimmer may have represented Schlesinger's new lover.

The upcoming sale, Rotter said, "will definitely be a record for David Hockney at auction".

One of the Yorkshire painter's most recognisable works, the composition of the two figures began as two separate photographs on the artist's studio floor.

Even if the painting is already well known, Christie's is taking it on tour to drive up potential buyer interest, in Hong Kong, London and Los Angeles.

Christie's has not disclosed the private seller, but Mr Rotter added: "It is this rare coincidence - when the best painting of an artist is actually available".

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