Bringing Home the Bacon

Francis Bacon's 1969 triptych Three Studies of Lucian Freud, which sold at Christy's for $142.2 million.
Francis Bacon's 1969 triptych Three Studies of Lucian Freud, which sold at Christy's for $142.2 million.

December / January 2014

A new record was set in the art auction world on November 12, at Christie’s auction house in New York. Three Studies of Lucian Freud, a 1969 triptych by Francis Bacon of his friend and fellow artist Lucian Freud, was purchased by art dealer William Acquavella on behalf of an unnamed client for $142.2 million – the highest price ever paid for an artwork sold at auction. The previous record-holder, Edvard Munch’s The Scream, went for $120 million at Sotheby’s in 2012.

Though he spent most of his working years in London, Bacon was born in Ireland on October 28, 1909, at 63 Lower Baggot Street in Dublin, and lived in Ireland until he was 16. In 1998, six years after Bacon’s death, the Hugh Lane Gallery in Dublin acquired his London studio and the 7,000 items it contained. The studio was relocated piece by piece and then rebuilt in the city of his birth.

Prior to Three Studies of Lucian Freud, the highest price ever paid for one of Bacon’s works was $86.3 million, by Russian businessman Richard Abramovich in 2008, for a 1976 triptych. After wide spread speculation concerning identity of the Lucian Freud triptych’s new owner, reports have emerged that the winning bid was placed by Sheikha Mayassa bint Hamad al-Thani of Qatar’s royal family. With lead discretion over the family’s art-buying budget, she also directly bought Paul Cezanne’s The Card Players last year for $250 million, the highest price ever paid for a painting.

On November 14, the Hugh Lane Gallery opened a new exhibition featuring photographs of Lucian Freud from Bacon’s studio. It runs through January 12.

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