Published: May 12, 2016
NEW YORK CITY — “Two Studies for a Self-Portrait” fetched $34,970,000 at Sotheby’s May 11 evening sale of contemporary art. The work came to auction for the first time, having remained in the same private collection since soon after it was painted more than 45 years ago. It was pursued by five bidders. Widely acknowledged as the finest self-portrayal Bacon ever produced, “Two Studies for a Self-Portrait” has been exhibited only twice before — first at the acclaimed 1971 Grand Palais retrospective in Paris and then most recently at Marlborough Fine Art’s “Small Portrait Studies” exhibition in London in 1993. However, perhaps the work’s iconic status lies in the fact that it was chosen to adorn the cover of Milan Kundera and France Borel’s definitive book Francis Bacon: Portraits and Self-Portraits.
The overall evening sale totaled $242,194,000, with 95.4 percent sold by lot, the firm’s highest sell-through rate in more than six years. Top lot in the sale was Cy Twombly’s untitled (New York City), selling for $36,650,000. The work was acquired by the consigner months after it was painted, and it was shown to the public for the first time at Sotheby’s presale exhibitions. The artist’s only “Blackboard” painting executed in blue wax crayon, the work was joined in its debut appearance at auction by Twombly’s untitled (Bacchus 1st Version V), which sold for $15,370,000.
Watch for a complete report on the art sales later.
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