Bacon Triptych of Freud May Sell for Record $95 Million

Source: Christie's Images Ltd. 2013 via Bloomberg
"Three Studies of Lucian Freud" (1969) by Francis Bacon. The triptych, estimated at more than $85 million at hammer prices, was the most valuable lot in an auction of postwar and contemporary art at Christie's International in New York on Nov. 12. in New York. The work sold for $142.4 million including fees to Acquavella Galleries to become the priciest work at any public auction.

A Francis Bacon triptych of Lucian Freud may sell for more than $95 million at auction in New York next month, an artist record.

Bacon’s 1969 “Three Studies of Lucian Freud” is the most highly valued work in Christie’s International’s flagship sale of postwar and contemporary art on Nov. 12, the London-based auction house said today in an e-mailed release.

Christie’s estimate of $85 million at hammer prices would incur fees. According to Bloomberg calculations, the work, if sold, would be more expensive than the record $86.3 million with fees paid for a 1976 triptych by Bacon at Sotheby’s (BID) in New York at the height of the last art-market boom in May 2008.

Entered by an unidentified European seller, the trio of gilded-framed canvases, showing Bacon’s painter friend sitting on a wooden chair against an orange background, has never appeared on the auction market before, said Christie’s.

The work, one of only two existing, full-length triptychs of Freud, was included in the Bacon retrospective at the Grand Palais in Paris in 1971-72.

Recent record prices, such as the $119.9 million paid for Edvard Munch’s “The Scream” at Sotheby’s New York in May 2012, have encouraged owners to part with valuable works. Triptychs from the 1960s are Bacon’s most desirable paintings, dealers said.

“Three Studies of Lucian Freud” will be on show at Christie’s in London from Oct. 13 to Oct. 18 during Frieze Week.

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To contact the writer on the story: Scott Reyburn in London at sreyburn@hotmail.com.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff at mhoelterhoff@bloomberg.net.

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