Francis Bacon triptych painting sells for $80.8m in New York

The Dublin-born artist’s piece ‘Three Studies for a Portrait of John Edwards’ dates from 1984

Three Studies for a Portrait of John Edwards. Photograph: Christie’s Images Ltd

Three Studies for a Portrait of John Edwards. Photograph: Christie’s Images Ltd

Wed, May 14, 2014, 08:43

A painting by Dublin-born artist Francis Bacon sold for $80.8 million (€58.9 million) in New York last night.

The triptych painting Three Studies for a Portrait of John Edwards was among the top lots in a Christie’s auction of Post-War and Contemporary Art in Manhattan.

The price was significantly below the $142.4 million (€105.3 million) achieved last year for a similar life-size triptych by Bacon Three Studies of Lucian Freud, which retains the record for the most expensive artwork sold at auction.

Christie’s said the Bacon had been bought by an Asian buyer whose name was not disclosed.

It is understood the vendor was a Taiwanese businessman.

In a post-auction comment Christie’s said Tuesday evening’s sale had achieved $744.9 million total and “represents the highest total for a single auction in art market history.”

The auction house said “bidders from 35 countries competed for an exceptional offering of masterworks by some of the century’s most influential artists including Francis Bacon, Andy Warhol, Barnett Newman, Mark Rothko, Jeff Koons and Christopher Wool”.

Three Studies for a Portrait of John Edwards dates from 1984 and depicts John Edwards, an illiterate barman in London’s East End who was Bacon’s closest companion.

When Bacon died in 1992, Mr Edwards inherited his estate and subsequently donated the artist’s studio to the Hugh Lane gallery in Dublin for which he was honoured, in 2001, with a Lord Mayor’s Award by Cllr Maurice Ahern.

Mr Edwards later moved to Thailand where he died 11 years ago.

During the past decade Bacon’s paintings have soared in value and now routinely sell for tens of millions.