On Oct. 22, Christie’s auctioned David Hockney ’s Portrait of Sir David Webster , a tribute to Sir David Webster , the former general administrator of the Royal Opera House, to raise vital funding for the world-renowned, 288-year-old art venue in London’s Covent Garden neighborhood.
The painting was purchased by a then-unidentified buyer for £12.865 million (US$17 million). It was just revealed that the buyer was David Ross , co-founder of the British cell phone retailer Carphone Warehouse.
Ross, 55, who has an estimated net worth of £642 million, according to the 2020 edition of the Sunday Times Rich List, is planning to loan the painting back to the institution. He was also recently elected as chair of the opera house’s board of trustees.
“I care that British history is preserved for the public,” Ross tweeted last week. “The painting celebrates Sir David Webster 's role in establishing the Royal Ballet and the Royal Opera House companies, so I’m delighted he is returning home to Covent Garden.”
Portrait of Sir David Webster was commissioned in 1971 upon Webster’s retirement from the Royal Opera House. It depicts Webster in Hockney’s studio, seated upon a Mies van der Rohe “MR” chair before a glass table. The painting has lived at the institution ever since.
“We are delighted to learn that the painting will also return to the walls of the Royal Opera House when we reopen our doors, and that the British public can look forward to enjoying this glorious work for years to come,” a spokesperson for the Royal Opera House told Penta in an email. “We would like to thank David Ross for his generosity.”
A major performing arts venue in London, the Royal Opera House is currently open for select events with advanced bookings. It also streams opera, music, ballet, dance performances, and festivals online.