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David Hockney’s ‘The Splash’ sells for £23.1 million at auction

One of the legendary gay artist's most famous works was sold at Sotheby's in London on Tuesday (11 February).

By Will Stroude

One of legendary gay artist David Hockney’s most famous works, ‘The Splash’, has sold for £23.1 million at auction.

The 1966 painting of a diver hitting the water of a Los Angeles swimming pool was bought by an unknown buyer for £23,117,000 at Sotheby’s in London on Tuesday (11 February), BBC News reports.

The famed artwork had been in private ownership since 2006 when it was purchased for £2.9 million – a figure which at the time was the highest amount a Hockney work had ever sold for.

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David Hockney’s landmark pool painting is set to make a ‘splash’ in London 💦 Painted in 1966, ‘The Splash’ is expected to sell for more than £20 million when it appears in our Contemporary Art Evening Auction on February 11. The painting captures a fleeting moment just seconds after a diver has broken the calm surface of a swimming pool. It is one of a series of three ‘splashes’, the largest of which is a jewel in the @Tate collection. The painting follows the artist’s relocation to LA just months earlier. The city was everything the Yorkshire-born artist had hoped it would be: a land of possibility, sun drenched houses, deep blue pools, palm trees and beautiful bodies, and ‘The Splash’ embodies the warmth, affluence, and pursuit of pleasure which Hockney so loved about this Californian dreamland. – #SothebysContemporary #CaliforniaDreaming #DavidHockney #losangeles

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Painted at the height of Hockey’s ’60s pop art success, ‘The Splash’ forms part of a trio of paintings which also includes ‘A Bigger Splash’ – currently held at London’s Tate Britain – and ‘A Little Splash’, which has remained in a private collection since its creation.

British painter Hockey, 82, is widely regarded as one of the most infleuntial artists of the 20th century, with his minimalist works often exploring gay life and love in the ’60s.

His 1972 work ‘Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures)’ sold for $90million (£70 million) at Christie’s in New York in 2018, breaking the record for the most expensive work by a living artist sold at auction.

The record was broken just six months later when US artist Jeff Koons’ 1986 work ‘Rabbit’ sold for $91.1 million.

Hockney generated headlines back in 2018 after drawnig Olympic diver Tom Daley nude. Just how many millions that particualr work will one day rack up remains to be seen…