Francis Bacon 'Lucian Freud' Painting Sold for $142.4M, Costliest Ever

Wednesday, 13 Nov 2013 12:51 PM

By Michael Mullins

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Francis Bacon's "Three Studies of Lucian Freud" sold for $142.4 million at a Christie's postwar and contemporary art auction Tuesday evening.

The 1969 painting set a world record for being the most expensive painting ever sold at an auction, surpassing the $120 million paid for Edvard Munch's "The Scream" at a Sotheby's sale in 2012, The Associated Press reported.

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The work sold after "6 minutes of fierce bidding in the room and on the phone" to Acquavella Galleries in Manhattan, Christie's said in a statement, according to the AP.

The "Three Studies of Lucian Freud" is a triptych, or work of art divided between three separate canvases connected on panels. The subject of each paining is Bacon's friend and fellow artist Lucian Freud, a grandson of psychoanalysis founder Sigmund Freud.


Separated for 15 years, the three panels were reunited in the 1970s. Prior to Tuesday's sale, the most someone paid for a work by the Irish-born Bacon was $86.3 million, The Chicago Tribune noted.

Tuesday's auction featured 68 other works of art, which in total sold for a combined $691,583,000 — said to be the highest total for any single auction in history.

"Our top collectors bid very, very aggressively for the best of the best," Brett Gorvy, Christie's head of postwar and contemporary art, said. "I really believe we are beginning something. This is not a bubble."

There was another record broken Tuesday night: most paid for a work by a living artist, with Jeff Koons' sculpture "Balloon Dog (Orange)" sold for $58.5 million. The sculpture consists of a 10-foot-tall stainless steel sculpture resembling a twisted child's party balloon. Christie's did not reveal the buyer of Koon's "Balloon Dog" sculpture, which had been sold by newsprint magnate Peter Brant for charity.


Among the other paintings that sold Tuesday night were Andy Warhol's "Coca-Cola (3)" for $57.2 million, Gerhard Richter's "Abstract Painting" for $20.8 million, and Roy Lichtenstein's "Seductive Girl" that brought in $31.5 million.

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