On November 15, at its postwar and contemporary art evening sale in New York, Christie’s is set to put David Hockney’s Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures), 1972, on the auction block.
Estimated to sell for around $80 million, the painting could set a new record for Hockney—the most paid for a work by him at auction is currently $28.5 million for his piece Pacific Coast Highway and Santa Monica, sold at Sotheby’s this spring. If it sells in the realm of its estimate, it would also make the 81-year-old highest-performing living artist at auction. (Jeff Koons currently holds that title, for an orange “Balloon Dog” sculpture of his sold that sold at Christie’s in 2013 for $58.4 million.)
Alex Rotter, co-chairman of Christie’s postwar and contemporary art department, told ARTnews, “The consignment of this works was very competitive, and in the end, the consignor was most confident in Christie’s ability to present a masterpiece of this scale.”
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. Kazakina reported that he had approached the big three houses—Sotheby’s, Christie’s, and Phillips about handling the transaction. The Hockney is considered by many to be one of the artist’s most important works, and it recently appeared in traveling retrospective, which made stops at Tate Britain and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
“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. “David Hockney’s brilliance as an artist is on full display with this monumental canvas, which encapsulates the essence of the idealized poolside landscape, and the tremendous complexity that exists within human relationships.”