Image via Christie’s

For the past five years, American artist Jeff Koons’ US$58.4 million Balloon Dog has been holding onto the record for most expensive work by a living artist to sell off at an auction. However, Koons’ crown is projected to soon be handed down to another.

At the Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Sale held by auction house Christie’s on 15 November, a contemporary masterpiece by 81-year-old English painter David Hockney is estimated to be sold at US$80 million, therefore potentially displacing Koons’ installation.

The 1972 painting titled Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures) is billed to be one of Hockney’s most prominent works, and depicts his former lover, Peter Schlesinger—pictured in a pink blazer—watching an anonymous swimmer who’s purported to be the artist himself.

Hockney and Schlesinge parted ways a year before the artwork’s completion.

Hockney is renowned for his double portraits that illustrate the relationships between subjects, as well as his outlook on them.

As for why the artist decided to portray a swimming pool, Hockney described to CNN in 2017 that he enjoyed painting the “wiggly” forms created by such water bodies.

“I always loved swimming pools, all the wiggly lines they make. If you photograph them, it freezes them… whereas if you use paint, you can have wiggly lines that wiggle.”

Before the auction in New York, Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures) was displayed at Hong Kong, London, and Los Angeles. Christie’s has not named the private seller of the piece.

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Yes, the news is true: we are now offering David Hockney’s ‘Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures)’ without a reserve.⠀ .⠀ This means that the iconic masterpiece has no minimum price in our Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Sale. Watch the auction live on our website and Facebook on 15 November, 7pm EST.⠀ .⠀ David Hockney (b. 1937), ‘Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures)’, 1972. Acrylic on canvas, 84 x 120 in. (213.5 x 305 cm.). Estimate on request.⠀ .⠀ Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Sale – Thursday 15 November at Christie’s New York.⠀ .⠀ #davidhockney #hockney #painting #contemporaryart #masterpiece #auction #newyork

A post shared by Christie's (@christiesinc) on Nov 9, 2018 at 2:01pm PST

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A post shared by Artspace (@artspace) on Nov 7, 2018 at 10:31am PST

[via CNN, images via various sources]

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