Hockney painting smashes record price for living artist

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A celebrated painting by British artist David Hockney has been sold at Christie's in NY for just over $90m (£70m) - an auction record for a work by a living artist.

It sold following a 10-minute battle between two rival bidders via telephone, after the price passed $70m.

It emphatically surpassed the previous record for a work by a living artist, which was held by American Jeff Koons for one of his Balloon Dog sculptures which sold for £45.6 million in 2013.

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Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures), features a man in a peach blazer standing on a sunlit ledge and peering over the rim of a pool at a submerged swimmer.

He began a new work that cast his former lover and favourite muse, California artist Peter Schlesinger, as a young man looking down at a swimming figure.

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The initial work was painted and painted over, with Hockney returning to the concept a year afterwards in 1972.

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.

Thursday's sale at Christie's flagship post-war and contemporary evening art sale caps the end of the biannual marquee art auctions held every year in November.

Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures) sold for $US90.3 million ($124.35 million) at Christie's auction house in NY on Thursday.

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