An iconic 1972 painting by British artist David Hockney soared to US$90.3mil (RM379mil) at Christie’s in New York on Thursday, smashing the record for the highest price ever paid at auction for a work by a living artist.

With Christie’s commission, Portrait Of An Artist (Pool With Two Figures), surpassed the auction house’s pre-sale estimate of about US$80mil (RM335mil), following a bidding war between two determined would-be buyers once the work hit US$70mil (RM293mil).

The previous record for a work by a living artist was held by Jeff Koons’ sculpture Balloon Dog, which sold for RM$58.4mil (RM245mil) in 2013. Hockney’s previous auction record was US$28.4mil (RM119mil).

The 1972 work by the 81-year-old British artist, one of Hockney’s most famous paintings which depicts a man in a pink jacket looking down on another figure swimming underwater in a pool, was reported to have been consigned by British billionaire currency trader Joe Lewis.

Christie’s did not identify the seller or the successful bidder, who was bidding via telephone.

The work went far towards boosting the success of Christie’s post-war and contemporary art auction, which took in a total of US$357.6mil (RM1.4bil), with 41 of the 48 lots on offer finding buyers.

Other highlights included Francis Bacon’s Study Of Henrietta Moraes Laughing, which sold for US$21.7mil (RM91mil) against a pre-sale estimate of US$14mil (RM59mil) to US$18mil (RM75mil), and Alexander Calder’s 21 Feuilles Blanches, which more than doubled its high estimate, selling for just under US$18mil (RM75mil). – Reuters