A New Record Is Set for Most Absurd Sum Spent at Auction on Work by a Living Artist


It is time, yet again, for a very lucky person to set a new record for paying too much for a work of art and looking at it as an investment.

The Guardian reported on Thursday that 81-year-old David Hockney became the most expensive living artist when his painting “Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures)” was sold at auction for $90.3 at Christie’s. Before the auction, Christie’s estimated the 1972 painting would go for $80 million. They were…close?

The painting is the one mounted above this blog. In it you will find a man in a swimming pool and another man on the edge of the pool staring down at him. It predicted most of Luca Guadagnino’s oeuvre, but that is not why it is so famous. It is actually well-known since it is thought to depict Hockney’s former lover and muse Peter Schlesinger, as the man on the pool’s precipice. Ana Maria Celis, vice-president of postwar and contemporary art at Christie’s, said in the run up to the sale, “We rarely can say, ‘This is the one opportunity to buy the best painting from the artist.’ This is it.”

The one silver lining? The previous record was held by the sale of Jeff Koons’s “Balloon Dog (Orange)” for $58.4 by Christie’s in 2013. This is a real victory for people who like to see Koons’ ego wounded only minutely or perhaps not at all.

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