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Francis Bacon painting sets new $142.4 million art record

By Korea Herald

Published : Nov. 13, 2013 - 19:11

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This undated photo provided by Christie’s shows “Three Studies of Lucian Freud,” a triptych by Francis Bacon of his friend and artist Lucian Freud. (AP-Yonhap News) This undated photo provided by Christie’s shows “Three Studies of Lucian Freud,” a triptych by Francis Bacon of his friend and artist Lucian Freud. (AP-Yonhap News)
NEW YORK (AFP) ― A work by British painter Francis Bacon was sold for $142.4 million in New York on Tuesday, smashing the world record for the most expensive piece of art ever auctioned.

“Three Studies of Lucian Freud” by the 20th-century figurative artist, who lived from 1909 to 1992, was sold by Christie’s after being offered at auction for the first time.

“The work was sold for $142,405,000, after six minutes of fierce bidding in the room and on the phone,” Christie’s announced.

Hammered to an outburst of applause at the auction, it smashed the previous record of $119.9 million fetched by Edvard Munch’s iconic “The Scream” by rival house Sotheby’s in New York in May 2012.

“An historic moment,” said auctioneer Jussi Pylkkanen when bidding temporarily stalled at $126 million, having opened at $80 million.

The rare triptych, executed almost 25 years after Bacon and Freud met, is the most expensive single lot offered in the entire New York November auction season.

The identity of the buyer was not immediately revealed.

The previous record for a Bacon painting was $86 million in 2008.

Pre-sale, Christie’s described the three studies work as “an icon of 20th century art” and said the auction was a “once in a lifetime” opportunity to acquire it.

Just moments later Christie’s broke another record by selling the giant orange “Balloon Dog” sculpture by Jeff Koons for $58.4 million, making history for the sale of a work by a living artist.

It is one of five different colored such pieces by the American, who has most recently collaborated with Lady Gaga providing artwork for the pop diva’s third album Artpop released on Monday.

The previous record for a Koons piece was $33.7 million.