Francis Bacon’s triptych Three Studies of Lucian Freud (1969) made a world auction record yesterday, by fetching $142m (£89m) at Chrities’s Post-War & Contemporary Evening Sale in New York.
One of the two existing Bacon’s triptychs of Lucian Freud, this work has become the most valuable ever sold at auction, eclipsing Munch’s The Scream, sold at Sotheby’s in 2012 for $119.9m.
The buyer is New York dealer Willam Acquavella who, according to reports in New York, was acting on behalf of an unknown client.
The monumental oil painting is particularly significant in the way it marks the relationship between Bacon and fellow artist, friend and rival Freud.
Completed twenty-five years after the two met, the panels were separated for fifteen years in the ‘70s before being reunited.
They depict three views of Freud sitting on a chair within a cage; each figure has a bed headboard behind it, which calls to mind a set of Freud’s photographs by John Deakin, by which Bacon was inspired.