With Christie's commission, "Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures)", surpassed the auction house's pre-sale estimate of about $80 million, following a bidding war between two determined would-be buyers once the work hit $70 million.
The very next year, "Portrait of an Artist" was sold for 20,000 pounds ($25,627) to a man who spotted it in Hockney's studio. One is of a Hollywood swimmer in 1966 and another of a boy who is staring an item on the ground.
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The Hockney had been estimated at an already-staggering $80 million. After a break, he resumed the piece the following year. Although the painting was owned by billionaire Joe Lewis, Hockney is now enjoying the rightful exposure his work deserves.
"It has all the elements that you would want in a Hockney painting..."
Although the 81-year-old has lost his hearing, he continues to paint and experiment with digital art.
Hockney said he was drawn to California by the sunshine, far from his hometown of Bradford, England, which he described as having a "gothic gloom".
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When the decision was reversed, Hockney was awarded a gold medal which he is said to have accepted while wearing a gold lame jacket and carrying a gold-coloured shopping bag.
His career took off after he moved to Los Angeles in the 60s.
It was first sold for $18,000 and has since become Hockney's most iconic oeuvre. Hockney was working on the painting at the time their relationship was ending. "It's only when I stop I feel my age", he added.
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