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Hockney's 'The Splash' sells for 27 million euros at London auction

A Sotheby's employee in front of 'The Splash' by David Hockney ahead of the auction in London, 7 February 2020
A Sotheby's employee in front of 'The Splash' by David Hockney ahead of the auction in London, 7 February 2020 Toby Melville/Reuters

A painting by British artist David Hockney, “The Splash”, sold at auction Tuesday evening for 27 million euros, eight times the price of when it last sold in 2006. The artist, who now lives in France, made the painting in 1966, when he had first moved to Los Angeles.

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The painting sold for 23.1 million pounds (27.5 mill euros) to an unknown buyer at auction in London at Sotheby’s, which had given it a pre-sale estimate of 20-30 million pounds.

Painted in 1966, "The Splash" is a square acrylic, depicting a swimming pool at the moment after a diver has leapt in, with water splashing up.

The composition, including the angled diving board, was inspired by a photo Hockney saw in a magazine on how to build swimming pools.

"I loved the idea of painting this thing that lasts for two seconds; it takes me two weeks to paint this event that lasts for two seconds," he said of the painting in a 1976 book, Hockney by Hockney.

The artist moved to southern California in the 1960s. There he became interested in swimming pools and the light reflected in the water.

"The Splash" is the second in a series of three paintings, including "A Little Splash", which is in a private collection, and "A Bigger Splash", which is in London's Tate Britain gallery.

"The Splash" was last sold at a Sotheby’s auction in London in 2006 for 2.6 million pounds (4.9 million euros), which was a record, at the time, for Hockney’s work.

Though in 2018, another pool painting, “Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures)” sold for a record 70 million pounds (83 million euros), the highest price ever paid at auction for a work by a living artist.

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