David Hockney

A portrait of British painter and printmaker David Hockney by his friend and contemporary Lucian Freud sold Tuesday at auction in London for nearly £15 million.

The high price for portrait — £14,905,200 ($20,700,000, 17,400,00 euros) — was driven by competing bids by five collectors as the work made its debut at auction.

It last appeared in public during a 2012 exhibition of Freud’s work at the National Portrait Gallery in London, the international auctioneer Sotheby’s said in a statement.

The stark painting of Hockney, rendered in Freud’s distinctive and expressive style, was the product of more than 100 hours of sittings between the pair in 2002.

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Hockney, 83, and Freud, who died in 2011 at the age of 88, first met in 1962 and ascended to the top of the international art world during their long careers.

Both have been feted as two of the greatest artistic talents of the last century.

The younger painter said sitting for the portrait, during which time the duo chatted, sipped tea and talked about their work was a “very memorable and enjoyable experience”.

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“I thought his portrait very good indeed — all the hours I sat were layered into it; he had always added, rarely taken anything away. It really shows,” he added.

The portrait by Freud, who was considered the greatest living British painter at the time of his death was completed in the months ahead of his critically acclaimed retrospective at the Tate Britain gallery.

It was included in a series of portraits of sitters and subjects including Queen Elizabeth II and the British supermodel Kate Moss.

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