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Francis Bacon work sells for GBP 23m

14th February 2011

A painting of Lucian Freud by Francis Bacon has sold for three times its estimate at an auction in London.

The triptych Three Studies For A Portrait Of Lucian Freud was purchased by an anonymous buyer at Sotheby's for GBP 23 million despite only being expected to fetch between GBP 7 and 9 million.

Painted in 1965 and held in a private collection ever since, the artwork depicts three different portraits of Freud, who was close friends with Bacon until the latter's death in 1992.

Cheyenne Westphal, chairman of contemporary European art at Sotheby's, said the painting 'radiates wall power' and represents everything the modern collector would look for in a piece.

'It narrates one of the most impressive artistic relationships of the 20th century between two titans of British art and is desirably fresh to the market having remained in the same collection for almost half a century,' she explained.

Other works in the auction included Salvador Dali's Portrait de Paul Eluard, which sold for GBP 13.5 million – a new record for a surrealist painting.

In 2008, an unfinished picture of Bacon by Freud sold for GBP 5.4 million at a post war and contemporary art evening sale at Christie's in London. 

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