Francis Bacon’s Portrait of Lucian Freud Sets Records in $52 Million Sale

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A Francis Bacon painting of Lucian Freud sold for £43.4million ($52million) in its auction debut, making it the artist’s most valuable panel piece, said Sotheby’s.

Title Study For Portrait Of Lucian Freudit has not been seen publicly for nearly six decades, having remained in the same private European collection for 40 years.

After surpassing its £35million estimate when it went under the hammer on Wednesday at Sotheby’s British Art: The Jubilee Auction, the piece set a string of auction records.

Sotheby’s said that as well as becoming Bacon’s most expensive single panel, it also became the artist’s most valuable painting sold in London in sterling.

It also won the highest-selling title at a London auction this summer season so far, Sotheby’s reported.

The work was painted by British artist Bacon in 1964 and based on a photograph by his contemporary colleague Freud, taken the same year by the artists’ mutual friend, John Deakin.

It was last seen in 1965 when displayed as the central panel of a large-scale triptych as part of a traveling exhibition in Hamburg and Stockholm.

The piece was also exhibited on its own in Dublin the same year.

Bacon separated the three individual works of the triptych shortly after their creation, with the left panel residing in a private collection and the right piece belonging to the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.

Freud and Bacon had been friends for 20 years before Bacon created Study For Portrait Of Lucian Freud and shared a friendship for over 40 years, before ties soured and the relationship ended in the mid-1980s.

The two artists painted themselves on numerous occasions, Freud often painting from real life and Bacon preferring to work from photographs.

Updated: June 29, 2022, 7:59 p.m.

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