A Ceramic Cat Made by a Young David Hockney Smashes Expectations at Auction, Fetching a Stunning $136,000

The sculpture had been expected to sell for at least $48,000.

David Hockney's ceramic cat (1955). Photo courtesy of Stacey's Auctioneers

A ceramic cat made by David Hockney and his friend Norman Stevens, a fellow artist, and gifted to a couple who once sheltered the hitchhiking artists, sold for more than double its estimate at an auction on Monday.

The early Hockney work made a record £111,875 ($136,000) at Stacey’s Auctioneers and Valuers, based in the U.K.’s Essex County, which had expected it to sell for at least £40,000 ($48,309).

The works were gifted by the Bradford School of Art students to Peter Richards and his wife, Wendy, after they offered Hockney and Stevens sanctuary from a heavy storm in 1955. Richards, now in his 90s, was present for the auction.

“This was a fantastic result for the vendor, who was present in the room and was auctioning the Hockney items to benefit his grandchildren,” Mark Stacey said in an emailed statement.

The final price superseded the previous £100,000 ($121,670) price achieved at Christie’s in June, which Stacey attributed to the likelihood it is the first of six produced by Hockney. It is also the only ceramic cat made by the artist with a black-and-white palette representative of the Richards’s family cat at the time. Previously, another of the cats sold for £40,000 ($48,309) at Bonhams in 2011.

“There was both online and telephone bidding from bidders in the U.K. and globally, with it finally being sold to an anonymous U.K. buyer,” Stacey said.

The cat, which measures 34.5 by 40 by 15.5 centimeters, was listed for auction among other items Hockney gifted to the Richards after developing a friendship with the family, including two woodblock and hand-painted cards and a large ceramic dish.

 

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