David Hockney, the 81-year-old British painter of saturated landscapes and portraits, could become the most expensive living artist at auction this year.
Hockney’s “Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures)” is being offered for sale to auction houses by billionaire Joe Lewis, who’s seeking at least $80 million for the work, according to people with direct knowledge of the matter. The current highest price for a living artist is $58.4 million for Jeff Koons’s orange balloon dog.
Christie’s, Sotheby’s and Phillips have been approached, with Christie’s the front-runner, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the consignment hasn’t been formally announced.
Lewis has built a $5.5 billion fortune, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. The foreign currency trader has parlayed his earnings into an array of assets that include London soccer team Tottenham Hotspur, real estate and masterpieces by artists including Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Francis Bacon and Lucian Freud.