Nation/World

$142 million art sale sets auction record

Bidding in New York for “Three Studies of Lucian Freud” by Francis Bacon resulted in a record sale at Christie’s. (Associated Press)
Bidding in New York for “Three Studies of Lucian Freud” by Francis Bacon resulted in a record sale at Christie’s. (Associated Press)

NEW YORK – A 1969 painting by Francis Bacon set a world record for the most expensive artwork ever sold at auction, and a sculpture by Jeff Koons broke a world auction record for a living artist at a Manhattan sale on Tuesday.

“Three Studies of Lucian Freud” was purchased for $142.4 million at Christie’s postwar and contemporary art sale Tuesday evening. The triptych depicts Bacon’s artist friend.

The work sold after “6 minutes of fierce bidding in the room and on the phone” to Acquavella Galleries in Manhattan, Christie’s said in a statement. The price included the buyer’s premium.

The price tag surpassed the nearly $120 million paid for Edvard Munch’s “The Scream,” which set a world record when it was sold at Sotheby’s in a 2012 sale.

The previous record for Bacon’s artwork sold at auction was the British artist’s 1976 “Triptych.” That sold for $86 million in 2008.

Also up for sale at Christie’s evening auction was Koons’ whimsical “Balloon Dog (Orange),” a 10-foot-tall stainless steel sculpture resembling a twisted child’s party balloon. It sold for $58.4 million, a world auction record for the artist and a world auction record for a living artist, said Christie’s. The auction house did not reveal the buyer.

It is one of five balloon dogs Koons has created in different colors. All are in private hands. It was sold by newsprint magnate Peter Brant to benefit his Brant Foundation Art Study in Greenwich, Conn.

A 1977 painting by Willem De Kooning, “Untitled VIII,” sold for more than $32 million, a world auction record for the artist. In 2006, De Kooning’s “Untitled XXV,” sold for $27.1 million.

Other highlights at Christie’s included an iconic Andy Warhol, “Coca-Cola (3),” which fetched $57.2 million. It was estimated to sell for $40 million to $60 million. The Warhol auction record is $71.7 million for “Green Car Crash (Green Burning Car I),” sold in 2007.



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