The top lot of the week by some distance was David Hockney’s (b.1937) The Splash that led Sotheby’s Contemporary art evening sale on February 11. Knocked down at £21m against an estimate of £20m-30m, it set the third-highest price for a work by the artist.
The price for the 1966 painting showed the growth in the artist’s market since the picture sold in the same saleroom in 2006 for £2.9m including premium – a record for the artist at the time. Nine of the top 10 prices for Hockney have been set in the past two years with the record now standing at $80m (£61.6m) for Artist (Pool with Two Figures), sold at Christie's in New York in 2018.
The Splash is one of three similar paintings by Hockney. The auction house had arranged for a third party to guarantee the lot.
The Sotheby’s sale generated a £92.5m premium-inclusive total with 43 of 46 lots sold on the night.
Christie’s evening sale the following night lacked any consignments close to this level, generating a £56.2m total from 55 lots of which 54 sold. It was led by an acrylic and silkscreen of Muhammed Ali, one of Andy Warhol’s (1928-87) Athletes series, that was knocked down within estimate at £4.2m.
Bonhams is holding its Post-War & Contemporary Art Sale in London on March 12 with the headline lot being Pierre Soulages’ (b.1919) Peinture pitched at £5.5m-7.5m.