David Hockey's "Portrait of an artist (Pool with Two Figures)" became the world's most expensive painting by a living artist on Thursday, after it was sold in NY for a record $90.3 million (€79.5 million).
It sold following a 10-minute battle between two rival bidders via telephone, after the price passed $70m. The final hammer valued it at $80 million but buyer's premium pushed its price up to a record $90.3 million.
Koons, 63, held the title since 2013 when his orange balloon dog sold for US$58.4 million.
In the picture, a smartly dressed man, standing on the edge of the pool, looks pensively at another figure swimming toward him in glistening waters, with an idyllic mountain view in the background.
Alex Rotter, co-chairman of post-war and contemporary art at Christie's in NY, said the painting reflects both the European and the USA perspectives of Hockney who went to live in California in the 1960s and saw himself as living on both continents.
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The picture dates back to the year that their great love affair ended, and the swimmer could be Peter's new lover.
Mr Lewis, a currency trader who owns football team Tottenham Hotspur, declined to accept a guarantee despite offers of about US$80 million, according to people familiar with the matter.
His career took off after he moved to Los Angeles in the 60s.
The previous record was held by American artist Jeff Koons, whose massive, stainless steel piece Balloon Dog (Orange) sold for $58.4 million U.S. at a Christie's NY auction in November 2013.