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Hockney's 'Beverly Hills Housewife' sells for a record $7.9 million

May 13, 2009 |  9:28 pm

Beverly Hills Housewife

"Beverly Hills Housewife," David Hockney's 1966 painting of Los Angeles arts patron Betty Freeman, sold at auction for a record $7.9 million Wednesday night in New York.

The 12-foot double canvas shows the pink-sheathed collector on her patio, flanked by a zebra-print Corbusier lounge chair, and an abstract sculpture. It was featured in a 2006 exhibition of Hockney portraits at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

The previous auction record for a Hockney was $5.35 million for "The Splash," a 1966 swimming pool painting once owned by movie mogul David Geffen. It sold in London in 2006 at Sotheby's.

Freeman died in January of pancreatic cancer at the age of 87. "Beverly Hills Housewife" was among 20 artworks from Freeman's estate up for sale. Christie's said 18 of the 20 lots sold for a total of $31.6 million, with two works unsold because bidding failed to reach the reserve price. The sales prices include auction house commissions.

The name of the buyer was not disclosed. No Los Angeles museum owns a classic Hockney painting from 1960s, the decade the British artist first came to prominence while working in the city.

— Lisa Fung

Photo: Associated Press / Christie's