Francis Bacon Triptych Sells For Landmark £26m
A Francis Bacon triptych of his lover George Dyer has sold at auction for a landmark £26.7m.
The 1967 work was the star of the show at a Sotheby's auction which netted a sales total of £93.1m.
The Bacon was one of around 40 such triptychs the artist painted in a format of 11 by 14 inches for each of the three frames.
Cheyenne Westphal, co-head of†Sotheby's contemporary art department, said the work has an interesting history.
"The story between Francis Bacon and George Dyer is actually extraordinary, they actually met because George Dyer broke into Francis Bacon's mews house and they became friends, lovers and extremely close," she said.
"Very sadly George Dyer committed suicide on the night of Bacon's biggest and most important exhibition at the Grand Palais in Paris in 1971 and that was just for Francis one of the most horrific things."
The previous top price for a similar Bacon triptych was £23m, while the highest price ever paid for a work of art at auction was the sale by rival Christie's of a large format Bacon triptych in New York last November for £83m ($142m).
"The Bacon was bought by collectors who truly wanted to own it. It was a completely private market that came from virtually every side of the world and people wanted to own this wonderful piece and they bought it," Ms Westphal said.
Auctioneer Oliver Barker explained the high level of interest in the piece: "Not only is this small scale triptych the greatest that has every come to the auction market but it's a great personality plus the fact that it has been in all the major Bacon retrospectives and stayed in the same collection from 1970 until it was brought to market now and it was entrusted to Sotheby's to sell it.
"And it was a great result - the greatest ever for a Bacon triptych."