NEW YORK CITY — “Three Studies of Lucian Freud,” 1969, by Francis Bacon achieved the highest price for any work of art sold at auction at $142,405,000 on November 12 at Christie’s postwar and contemporary art sale.
One of the most important and iconic paintings by the artist, uniting two of the Twentieth Century’s greatest figurative painters at the apex of their relationship, the rare triptych was executed almost 25 years after Bacon and Freud met. It was exhibited in Bacon’s now renowned retrospective at the Grand Palais, Paris in 1971–72, and was never before presented at auction. The work was sold after six minutes of fierce bidding in the room and on the phone.
The previous record for Bacon was a triptych painted in 1976, which brought $86.2 million at Sotheby’s in May 2008. The previous record for most expensive artwork sold at auction was held by Edvard Munch’s “The Scream,” executed in 1895, which sold for $119.9 million in Sotheby’s Impressionist and Modern art evening sale in May 2012.
A complete review will appear in an upcoming issue.