Cover Photo: Getty Images

Sotheby’s Auction House says it’s the third-highest price ever paid for a Hockney.

David Hockney's “The Splash” painting went under the hammer at an auction in London earlier this week, selling for more than US$29.8 million to an unknown buyer.

According to Sotheby’s Auction House, who hosted the sale, this is only the third-highest price ever paid for Hockney’s work, who was the world's most expensive living artist at one point.

This particular painting showcases a California swimming pool, where a person has just dived in and created a splash (hence the name). It’s part of a series of three works, all painted in Los Angeles between 1966 and 1967.

Inspired by the time Hockney spent in Los Angeles following his graduation from art school, “The Splash” showcases the artist’s interest in the texture, movement, and depth of water.

“I loved the idea of painting this thing that lasts for two seconds,” Hockney said of the "The Splash" in 1976. “It takes me two weeks to paint this event that lasts for two seconds. Everyone knows a splash can't be frozen in time, so when you see it like that in a painting it's even more striking than in a photograph.”

"Not only is this a landmark work within David Hockney's oeuvre, it's an icon of Pop that defined an era and also gave a visual identity to LA," Emma Baker, head of Sotheby's contemporary art evening sale, said in a statement.

This isn’t the first time “The Splash” has hit the auction block. It had previously sold in 2006 for just over US$5M. Since then, Hockney’s work has seen record-breaking success. In 2018, "Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures)" sold for US$90.3 million, which was the highest ever auction sale for a living artist at the time.

See also: Shakespeare's First Folio To Hit The Auction Block This Spring