David Hockney's iconic painting sells for record $90.3 million

An auctioneer takes bids for the sale of David Hockney's Portrait of an Artist at Christie's in New York

The single most expensive piece of art ever sold at auction was the eye-watering $450.3 million paid for Leonardo da Vinci's "Salvator Mundi" past year at Christie's in NY.

British artist David Hockney's famous painting "Portrait of an Artist [Pool with Two Figures]" was sold for $90 million at Christie's on Thursday night, shattering the record for work by a living artist sold at auction.

The previous record for a work by a living artist was set by Jeff Koons' "Balloon Dog", which sold for $58.4 million in 2013.

"Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures)" was snapped up after more than nine minutes of bidding, dominated by two rival telephone bidders.

It was standing room only in the packed sales room at Christie's in NY, where a smattering of applause broke out when the sale concluded, the painting hammering for $80 million. The painting was originally inspired by two photographs Hockney found juxtaposed on his studio floor, one of a swimmer in Hollywood in 1966, and another of a boy staring at something on the ground.

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"One was a figure swimming underwater and therefore quite distorted.the other was a boy gazing at something on the round", Hockey later recalled.

"The idea of painting two figures in different styles appealed so much that I began the painting immediately".

The painting has now gotten the highest price at auction of any work by a living artist.

Upon his return to London, Hockney worked 18 hours a day for two weeks to complete the new painting before it was scheduled to be sent to NY.

It was first sold for $18,000 and has since become Hockney's most iconic oeuvre.

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