How a bizarre court case turned upside down the life of Caribbean-based artist Peter Doig

Artist Peter Doig in his London studio Credit: Rex/Shutterstock

Two years ago, at Christie’s in New York, a painting by the British artist Peter Doig, featuring a ghostly canoe in a lagoon, sold for an astonishing amount of money: nearly $26 million (£16.6 million).

“It was crazy,” says Doig, who didn’t receive a penny from the auction, speaking to me by phone from his home in Trinidad. “I remember painting Swamped when I was a mature student at Chelsea College of Art [and Design]. It was there in my degree show, and no one wanted to buy it.”

How, then, does he account for its value today? “I can’t really say. I just know how hard it is to make a decent painting. Over the years, it hasn’t become any easier.”

Warm, thoughtful and down-to-earth, Doig, who recently became a father for the sixth time, is now 57. Although he rents an apartment in New York, he spends most of his time living in a farming community in the hills above Port of Spain with the mother...

To continue reading this Premium article

Register for free and access one Premium article per week

Enjoy unlimited access to Premium articles with a subscription

  • Subscriber-only events and experiences
  • Access Premium articles on our mobile app

30-day free trial

then only £2 per week

Unlock all Premium articles for 24 hours. Only £1.

Free £50 gift card when you subscribe
Enjoy a free £50 gift card* for one of your favourite brands when you take out an annual subscription
*Gift cards will be sent out by email within 21 days of the subscription start date. Available in the UK Only.