A Francis Bacon’s painting featuring his friend and fellow artist Lucian Freud has become the most expensive artwork ever sold at auction after it fetched $142.4 million in New York.
The triptych, Three Studies of Lucian Freud, painted in 1969, is considered one of Francis Bacon’s greatest masterpieces.
The artwork was sold after six minutes of fierce bidding, Christie’s auction house said.
The price eclipsed the $119.9 million paid for Edvard Munch’s The Scream last year.
At the same auction, Jeff Koons broke the world record for a price paid for a single artwork by a living artist.
Jeff Koons’ sculpture Balloon Dog (Orange) – one of a series of five stainless steel sculptures in varying colors – fetched $58,4 million.
Three Studies of Lucian Freud, painted in 1969, is considered one of Francis Bacon’s greatest masterpieces
The previous record for a living artist was set by a Gerhard Richter painting depicting an Italian city square, which sold in May for $37.1 million.
It was the first time Three Studies of Lucian Freud had been offered at auction and bidding opened at $80 million. Its presale estimate was $85 million.
Christie’s did not disclose the identity of the buyer.
Francis Bacon, known for his triptychs, painted Three Studies of Lucian Freud in 1969 at London’s Royal College of Art, after his studio was destroyed in a fire.
The pair met in 1945 and became close companions, painting each other on a number of occasions, before their relationship cooled during the 1970s.
Exhibited in Francis Bacon’s renowned retrospective at the Grand Palais, Paris in 1971-1972, the three panels that form the painting were separated in the mid-1970s.
One panel was shown at the Tate in 1985 before the three sections were reassembled.
The complete work was displayed in New Haven, Connecticut in 1999.
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Kate Moss has revealed her supermodel body is quite literally a work of art – as she has a tattoo inked by Lucian Freud just above her bottom.
Kate Moss, 38, befriended Lucian Freud – widely considered one of the greatest artists of the 20th Century – when he painted her in the nude in 2002 while she was pregnant with her daughter Lila Grace.
In an interview in America, Kate Moss told how Lucian Freud – who learned how to give homemade tattoos using permanent ink and a scalpel during a brief stint in the Merchant Navy during the Second World War – offered to draw two tiny swallows at the base of her spine.
“He told me about when he was in the navy, when he was 19 or something, and he used to do all of the tattoos for the sailors,” she said.
“And I said, <<Oh my God, that’s amazing>>. And he went, <<I can do you one. What would you like? Would you like creatures of the animal kingdom?>>
“I said I liked birds and he replied, <<I’ve done birds. I’ve got it in my book.>> And he pointed down at a painting of a chicken upside down in a bucket. And I said, <<No, I’m not having that.>>
“And then he said, <<Maybe I should just do you>>. And I thought, I’m not going to have a girl on my a***. So we decided to do a flock of birds.
“I mean, it’s an original Freud. I wonder how much a collector would pay for that? A few million?
“If it all goes horribly wrong I could get a skin graft and sell it! It’s probably the only one on skin that’s still around, because when he was in the navy he was about 19. Can you imagine?”
Kate Moss has revealed her supermodel body is quite literally a work of art as she has a tattoo inked by Lucian Freud just above her bottom
Kate Moss, who this week launched her new book, Kate, has often shown off the tattoo but the provenance of it has never been revealed until now.
She has several other tattoos including a heart on her left wrist, a small anchor on her right wrist and a small star on her ankle.
During the interview Kate Moss spoke movingly about being introduced to Lucian Freud – who died in July 2011 at the age of 88 – after naming him in an interview as the person she would most like to meet. Two days later, Lucian Freud’s fashion designer daughter Bella called and said the artist would like to meet her.
Kate Moss revealed: “I was, <<Oh my God!>> Bella said, <<He just wants to go for dinner with you. Don’t be late>>. So I went to the house and he started [the nude painting] that night. Couldn’t say no to Lucian. Very persuasive. I phoned Bella the next day and said, <<How long is it going to take?>>
“She said, <<How big is the canvas?>> I said, <<It’s quite big>>. She said, <<Oh dear, could take six months to a year>>.”
The painting took nine months to complete, with the model sitting seven nights a week from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m. It was sold to an anonymous bidder at auction in 2005 for £3.9 million ($6 million). Kate Moss said of that time: “I could not be one minute late. He was really powerful. You wanted to please him. But I wish I hadn’t posed like that.
“It’s just the first thing I did – I just fell on the side of the sofa and he said, <<That’s fine>>, and started painting. It’s not like modelling where you can change it. I had a dead arm.”
The supermodel also told Vanity Fair magazine of the famous photograph of the pair cuddling in bed in 2010 when Lucian Freud was recovering from an accident. She said: “I took all these flowers, those little ones he loved . . . and he was in bed.
“He pulled back the covers and went, <<I’ve been keeping it warm for you>>.
“I love the picture. I just got under his arm. Lucian was always really kind. I adored him.”