Unfinished sketch by David Hockney fetches US$90.3 million

Even David Hockney, that most celebrated of British Pop Art painters, couldn’t have envisaged so fanciful a notion as a canvas he left incomplete some 47 years ago one day commanding a record sum at auction, while being universally hailed as a modern-day masterpiece. Inconceivable or not, fact has outpaced fancy, with Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures), the unfinished fine art-ery in question, fetching a truly monumental winning bid of US$90.3 million (HK$706 million) when it came up for auction at Christie’s New York.

David Hockney
Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures) by David Hockney

Bidding for this half-finished Hockney opened at a more-than-respectable US$18 million, before rapidly soaring to US$90 million, a figure some US$72.3 million higher than its clearly conservative reserve. Pretty much in one bound, this established Hockney’s experimental piece as one of the high-water marks of post-World War II creativity, while catapulting the artist himself to the all-time pantheon of preeminent painting practitioners. One can only wonder how much it would have fetched had David Hockney ever actually deigned to complete his design.

Photos: Renaud Camus