Small Francis Bacon Triptych Sells for $45 Million at Sotheby’s London

Francis Bacon, Three studies for Portrait of George Dyer (on light ground) (in 3 parts) sold for £26.68 million ($45.46 million) at Sotheby's London in June 2014. Courtesy of Sotheby's London.

Francis Bacon‘s small-scale triptych Three Studies for Portrait of George Dyer (on light ground), a portrait series of Bacon’s lover in a camel-colored shirt against a beige background, sold at the contemporary art evening sale at Sotheby’s London tonight for £26,682,500 (roughly $45.4 million). One of the highlights of the sale, the painting has been in the same private collection since 1970 and made its auction debut tonight. It reportedly drew bids from around the world, causing the price to soar past its £20 (roughly $34 million) high estimate due to underbidding by Sotheby’s chairman in Asia Patti Wong.

It was a fair sum for the rare portrait for sure, and we imagine the seller might have been heartened by the strong sales of large-scale triptychs that have been coming up for sale like Three Studies of Lucien Freud (1969), which sold for $142.4 at Christie’s in November 2013, breaking the artist’s record and setting a record for the most expensive artwork ever sold at auction. But the Dyer portrait series also apparently set a new record for Bacon’s small-scale triptychs at auction, the last being set by Portrait of Lucian Freud (studies) (in 3 parts) (1964) which sold at Sotheby’s London in 2011 for £23 million (roughly $37.1 million). We weren’t even aware that small-scale triptychs had their own distinct category. Leave it to Sotheby’s!

Stay tuned for artnet News’s full report from Monday night’s contemporary auction at Sotheby’s London.

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