Sculpture David Hockney gave couple who sheltered him from a storm in their Bedfordshire cottage fetches £111,875 at auction

It fetched a record price for a Hockney ceramic cat
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A sculpture that David Hockney gifted to a couple who gave him shelter during a storm 68 years ago has fetched a whopping £111,875 at auction.

The legendary artist gave the rare ceramic model to Peter Richards and his wife after they offered him and a pal sanctuary from bad weather in 1955.

The couple owned a cottage alongside the A1 in Bedfordshire, and on a rainy Sunday afternoon, they spotted two young men sheltering under their eaves. They gave the drenched lads refuge while making them tea and drying their soaked clothes.

Mr. Peter Richards, the seller of the David Hockney items. Picture: Stacey'sAuctioneers&Valuers/SWNSMr. Peter Richards, the seller of the David Hockney items. Picture: Stacey'sAuctioneers&Valuers/SWNS
Mr. Peter Richards, the seller of the David Hockney items. Picture: Stacey'sAuctioneers&Valuers/SWNS

Later, they learned the pair were David Hockney and Norman Stevens, from Bradford College of Art, who were hitchhiking to London to visit exhibitions.

Hockney, who became one of Britain's most celebrated artists, went on to have a long-lasting friendship with the Richards. And as a reward for their kindness on that wet afternoon, he gifted them the ceramic black and white cat, which looked similar to their pet moggy at the time.

When the ornament went under the hammer on Monday it shattered the previous sale record of £100,000 set by a similar David Hockney Sculpture in June.

Mark Stacey, from Stacey's Auctioneers & Valuers who sold the item, said the unique piece had "exceeded all expectations".

The rare black-and-white ceramic cat, created by David Hockney in 1955. Stacey'sAuctioneers&Valuers/SWNSThe rare black-and-white ceramic cat, created by David Hockney in 1955. Stacey'sAuctioneers&Valuers/SWNS
The rare black-and-white ceramic cat, created by David Hockney in 1955. Stacey'sAuctioneers&Valuers/SWNS

He said: "This was a fantastic result for the vendor who was present in the room and was auctioning the Hockney items to benefit his grandchildren. The cat exceeded all expectations, and £111,875 is a record for a Hockney ceramic cat, superseding the previous price achieved at Christie's in June of this year. 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."

The sculpture - which it’s believed could be Hockney’s first ceramic creation - is one of six cats produced by the artist in 1955 whilst still at art school. It measures 34.5cm by 40cm by 15.5cm and demonstrates his incredible skill with three-dimensional forms.

The piece also came with drawings and plans for the piece, along with letters and cards sent to the Richards by the artist over the years.

Hockney has long had a fascination with cats, and they have been a significant motif in some of his major works. But this ceramic cat is black and white and has a different colouring compared to the other five in existence.

Peter Richards, who now lives in Thorpe Bay, Essex, and is in his 90s, said he'd decided now was the right time to sell the ornament to help the younger generations of his family.

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