Hockney's pool painting sells for record $90M

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David Hockney's Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures) - perhaps the most recognized piece in the English painter's swimming pool series - fetched $90 million United States at Christie's NY auction on Thursday, becoming the most expensive work sold by a living artist.

English artist David Hockney's 'Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures)' is displayed during a Christie's auction preview in Hong Kong on September 27, 2018.

The painting shows two men - one swimming the breaststroke underwater, the other standing by the pool looking down.

Christie s did not identify the seller or the successful bidder, who was bidding via telephone during a almost 10-minute contest for the work. It shattered the milestone earlier held by Jeff Koons, whose sculpture "Balloon Dog" was sold for $58.4 million in 2013.

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The USD 90 million price tag was all the more astonishing given the roughly USD 20,000 that Hockney told CNN his dealer originally sold the painting for in 1972, subsequently believing it had been undervalued. Among his famous "pool paintings", "Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures)" is considered one of his premier works. One, fully clothed, stands at the edge of a swimming pool gazing down at another, who's submerged. He apparently has one of the largest privately owned art collections in the world. Hockney worked and reworked the painting for a span of six months after which he ended up ripping his creation.

Christie's declined to reveal the identity of the seller nor any information about the buyer, insisting they wanted to remain anonymous.

An unidentified phone bidder won the artwork after a drawn-out bidding war on Thursday night at Christie's in NY.

"It has all the elements that you would want in a Hockney painting..." "When I paint, I feel I'm 30". A similar auction past year brought in $785.9 million, including Leonardo Da Vinci's "Salvator Mundi", which sold for $450 million.