LONDON.- Seminal pop art painting "The Splash" by David Hockey sold for £23.1 million ($29.8 million) at a London auction on Tuesday, the third highest price paid for a work by the British artist.
"The Splash", which was painted in 1966, depicts the moment just after a diver has broken the surface of a swimming pool, capturing the fantasy Californian lifestyle.
"Not only is this a landmark work within David Hockney's oeuvre, it's an icon of Pop that defined an era and also gave visual identity to LA," said Emma Baker, head of the contemporary art sale at London's Sotheby's auction house.
Sotheby's also called the work "a quintessential example of Hockney's lifelong fascination with the texture, appearance and depth of water".
The price, bid by an unknown buyer, is nearly eight times that achieved when the work last sold at auction for £2.9 million in 2006.
Yorkshire-born Hockney's "Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures)" sold for over $90 million in New York in 2018, an auction record at the time for a work by a living artist.
The same year, his "Pacific Coast Highway and Santa Monica" sold for $28.5 million.
Fresh to auction, ADRIAN GHENIES The Arrival soared over the high estimate to achieve £4,184,500 / $5,401,353 / 4,962,380 (est. £2.5-3.5 million). The top 11 prices for the artist have been set since 2016.
In the year of his 100th birthday, WAYNE THIEBAUDS Californian Fruit Stand achieved a juicy £1,815,000 / $2,342,802 / 2,152,401 (est. £800,000-1,200,000). Having remained in the same European collection since the 1960s, the auction follows the artists record-breaking sale at Sothebys New York last November.
In its auction debut, a new world RECORD was set for A.R. PENCKS Welt des Adlers I (World of the Eagle I) when it sold for £531,000 / $685,415 / 629,711 (est. £300,000-500,000). The work was executed in 1981 at a pivotal moment in Pencks career following his exodus from East Germany to West in August 1980. The previous record for the artist was £369,000 / $481,100 set at Phillips London in October 2017.
BANKSYS Vote to Love more than doubled its pre-sale estimate when the price soared to £1,155,000 / $1,490,874 / 1,369,709 (est. £400,000-600,000). The work was prominently displayed in the Royal Academys Summer Exhibition in 2018 with a price tag of £350 million a reference to the Vote Leave bus which claimed Brexit would save the NHS £350 million per week.
JEAN DUBUFFETS Episode champêtre doubled the low estimate to sell for £1,815,000 / $2,342,802 / 2,152,401 (est. £900,000-1,200,000). The artist will be the subject of a major retrospective at the Barbican from September 2020 to January 2021, sponsored by Sothebys.
FIVE LOTS OVER £5 MILLION:
JEAN-MICHEL BASQUIATS Rubber sold for £7,487,600 / $9,664,994 / 8,879,512 (est. £6-8 million) 23 times the price achieved for the work when it sold for 420,500 at Sothebys New York in 1988.
FRANCIS BACONS Turning Figure, in the same collection for more than 30 years, sold for £7,032,000 / $9,076,906 / 8,339,218 (est. £6-8 million) in its auction debut.
An exemplar of CHRISTOPHER WOOLS feted series of abstract monochrome paintings, Untitled achieved £6,156,809 / $7,942,283 / 7,326,602 (est. £5.5-6.5 million).
In its auction debut, YVES KLEINS Anthropometry, (ANT 132) realised £6,177,750 / $7,969,297 / 7,351,522 (est. £6-8 million). The painting is the first Anthropometry work to appear at auction that features two full body figures and has remained in one family collection for 35 years.
Opening the sale with a bang, JULIE CURTISS enchanting Witch achieved £162,500 / $209,755/ 192,708 (est. £50,000-70,000), after eight determined bidders competed for the work tripling the low estimate. Works by Curtiss first appeared at auction in May 2019. Her record at auction has since been broken twice.
After seeing competition from five bidders, EDDIE MARTINEZS Empirical Mind State soared to £615,000 / $793,842 / 729,326 (est. £100,000-150,000) six times the low estimate. Tonights sale marked the first time a work by Martinez has appeared in an evening sale at Sothebys London. The top 20 prices for the artist at auction were all set in 2019.