Ascertaining the Value of David Hockney’s $90 Million Painting

When Christie’s set the $80 million estimate for David Hockney’s masterpiece “Portrait of an Artist (Pool With Two Figures),” which would ultimately pale in comparison to the actual record-setting (for a work by a living artist) hammer cost of $90 million, they took many factors into account. More than arguing that it’s one of the iconic artist’s best compositions, the team at Christie’s made note of the fact that it’s the only time Hockney combined a swimming pool with a double-portrait—two of his most frequent fixations. Further, a series of complications disrupted the painting’s production and emphasized Hockney’s mastery. Finally, they noted that the market was there—from the scarcity of work to an onslaught of interested mega-millionaires. Read about the painting’s extensive backstory, and its evaluation, at The Atlantic.