David Hockney overtakes Jeff Koons as most expensive living artist at auction

David Hockney RA 82 Portraits and 1 Still-life exhibition

From 1972, the British artist's "Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures)" beat out the previous record for a living artist, the $58.4 million that a Jeff Koons "Balloon Dog" fetched.

David Hockney became the most expensive living artist in the world on Thursday at Christie's Auction House when his painting that is titled "Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Fingers)" sold for an awe-inspiring $90.3 million.

The sale eclipsed the previous record held by USA artist Jeff Koons.

Started in 1971, Portrait of an Artist was inspired by two unrelated photos that had fallen together in Hockney's studio.

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His painting depicts two men, one swimming under water while the other watches from the side of the pool.

Christie's had estimated the 1972 oil painting at $80 million and called the Hockney "one of the great masterpieces of the modern era". After a break, he resumed the piece the following year.

In a virtually unprecedented move for such a valuable painting, "Portrait of an Artist", which was on exhibition at Tate Britain, the Pompidou Centre and NY s Metropolitan Museum of Art over the past two years, was sold with no reserve, the minimum price at which the consignor agrees to sell a piece.

For the next five years, according to Christie's, Mr Schlesinger was both "the great love of Hockney's life" and one of his favourite models. Forbes estimates the 81-year-old's fortune at $5 billion (€4.4 billion).

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In his 70s he returned to Yorkshire, where he produced a stunning series of landscapes capturing the changing seasons.

His career took off after he moved to Los Angeles in the 60s.

Hockney said he was drawn to California by the sunshine, far from his hometown of Bradford, England, which he described as having a "gothic gloom".

Often a non-conformist, Hockney has spoken out about the UK's smoking ban, calling it "mean-spirited". "When I paint, I feel I'm 30".

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