The controversial sale of David Hockney’s painting of the Royal Opera House’s first modern manager David Webster went ahead last night despite vociferous public opposition.
The hammer price of £12.8 million was at the low end of the auction house’s estimate. The opera house will receive £11 million after paying commission, equivalent to about half its annual public subsidy. Whether this outweighs the reputational damage remains to be seen.
‘As we face the biggest crisis in our history, the sale of David Hockney’s wonderful portrait of Sir David Webster, is a vital part of our strategy for recovery,’ said Alex Beard, the ROH chief executive. The artist himself was said to be deeply offended.