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    Thursday, May 18th, 2017

    Cy Twombly (1928-2011) – Leda and the Swan

    The top lots at Christie’s Post War and Contemporary evening sale in New York last night were Cy Twombly’s  Leda and the Swan ($52,887,500) and  Francis Bacon’s Three Studies for a Portrait of George Dyer ($51,767,500).

    The 68 lots sold brought in $448 million and Christie’s say that the results rank among the strongest ever for this category in New York.  A total of 71 lots were offered and five sold for over $20 million.

    La Hara by Basquiat made $34.9 million, Red White and Brushstrokes by Lichtenstein made $28.2 million and Big Campbell’s soup can with can opener (vegetable) by Warhol made $27.5 million.

    (See posts on for February 24 and March 21, 2017)

    IN a post sales roundup Christie’s reported that the spring auction series totalled $842.5 million.   The week scored the highest total for an Impressionist and Modern evening sale at Christie’s since May 2010 and the strongest sell-through rates for a Post-War and Contemporary evening sale in a decade.


    Friday, February 24th, 2017

    Francis Bacon’s Three Studies for a Portrait of George Dyer, 1963 will be a highlight at Christie’s Post-War and Contemporary evening sale in New York  on May 17.  It was formerly in the collection of author Roald Dahl, a friend of Bacon’s, and it has never been auctioned before.  Dahl became an admirer of Bacon’s work when he first encountered it on a touring exhibition in 1958. He was unable to collected it at that time, but after enjoying success in the 1960’s he acquired four works by Bacon between 1964 and 1967.  The triptych here is one of these works.

    Painted in 1963, Three Studies for a Portrait of George Dyer marks the beginning of Francis Bacon’s relationship with Dyer, his greatest muse. This triptych is the very first portrait Bacon made of his lover who came to feature in many of the artist’s most arresting and sought after works. George Dyer came to appear in at least forty of Bacon’s paintings, many of which were created after his death in Paris in 1971. The convulsive beauty of this work represents the flowering of Bacon’s infatuation with Dyer, and is only one of five triptychs of Dyer that the artist painted in this intimate scale. It is estimated at $50=70 million.

    Loic Gouzer, Deputy Chairman, Post-War and Contemporary Art, Remarked: “Three Studies for a Portrait of George Dyer is a masterful tryptych, which was completed with the first three months of Bacon’s relationship with the most important muse of his career. These powerful portraits exemplify the dynamism and complex psychology that the artist is most revered for. And with its tremendous significance to the artist and excellent provenance, we are honored to have the opportunity to present this monumental work at auction for the first time.”  



    Sunday, May 1st, 2016

    Francis Bacon said, “Everything I do goes into painting.” In this short video, Academy Award-winning actor Jeremy Irons brings to life excerpts from the artist’s interviews with David Sylvester and reveals Bacon’s own thoughts about his celebrated self portraits. ‘Two Studies for a Self-Portrait,’ painted by Bacon in 1970, highlights Sotheby’s Contemporary Art evening quction in New York on May 11.

    (See post on for March 17, 2016)


    Thursday, March 17th, 2016
    Francis Bacon - Two Studies for a Self-Portrait (1970)

    Francis Bacon – Two Studies for a Self-Portrait (1970)

    A rare optimistic Francis Bacon self-portrait will lead Sotheby’s sale of Contemporary Art in New York on May 11. Two Studies for a Self-Portrait (1970) is at auction for the first time with an estimate of $22-30 million.  It has been in the same private collection since soon after it was painted.   While Bacon is renowned for capturing the tortured psychological depths of human existence in his portraits, the overwhelming positivity of Two Studies for a Self-Portrait renders this work almost unique in the artist’s oeuvre. Here we see an elated Francis Bacon on the cusp of his career-defining retrospective at the Grand Palais in 1971 (Bacon was only the second living artist, after Picasso, to be afforded this honour), and in the throes of his relationship with George Dyer, whose suicide a year later was to haunt Bacon (and shape his art) for decades to come.

    It was exhibited twice: at the acclaimed 1971 Grand Palais retrospective and at the Marlborough Fine Art Small Portrait Studies exhibition in London in 1993.  Its iconic status lies in the fact it was chosen to adorn the cover of Milan Kundera and France Borel’s definitive book Francis Bacon: Portraits and Self-Portraits, confirming its position at the absolute zenith of Francis Bacon’s most significant and enduring body of work. Oliver Barker of Sotheby’s is fulsome about the work:  “Two Studies for a Self-Portrait goes straight in at number one of all the paintings I’ve handled in my career. Discovering a work such as this is like finding gold dust. To my mind, the painting is worthy of a place alongside the very finest self-portraits of Rembrandt, Van Gogh and Picasso. It’s certainly among the greatest self-portraits ever offered at auction.”

    Bacon created only two other self-portraits in this dual format. One of them, Two Studies for a Self-Portrait (1977) sold at Sotheby’s in February 2015 for £14.7m ($22.4m). The year 2016 is set to be a red-letter year for Francis Bacon.  There are upcoming exhibitions at the Grimaldi Forum in Monaco (sponsored by Sotheby’s), at Tate Liverpool, and at the Getty Museum in Los Angeles. The most significant publication on the artist for 30 years, Francis Bacon: Catalogue Raisonné, edited by Martin Harrison, will be released in the next few months and is expected to reveal no fewer than 100 unseen works by the artist.


    Monday, February 29th, 2016
    The O'Malley paintings with Bacon on the back.

    The O’Malley paintings with Bacon on the back.

    A lost unfinished nude by Francis Bacon on the back of two early paintings by Tony O’Malley surfaces at The Modern British & Irish Art sale at Christie’s South Kensington on March 17.  Bacon started Figure when working in St Ives, Cornwall in the late 1950’s, but when the artist cut short his visit following an argument with his partner he abandoned the work, among many others. It was divided into two by Tony O’Malley who worked and lived at St. Ives for many years. He went on to paint two scenes on the opposite sides: Currach, Clare Island and Evening Landscape Tehidy Hospital.  

    The works were separated in different collections – the O’Malley family and the Fallon family – for many years.  They have now been reunited and will be offered with an estimate of £20,000-30,000.  Given the amount of interest generated this could be conservative.

    UPDATE: IT SOLD FOR £434,000

    Here is a video about the reunited Bacon:


    Wednesday, July 1st, 2015
    Andy Warhol - One Dollar Bill (Silver Certificate) sold for £20.9 million.

    Andy Warhol – One Dollar Bill (Silver Certificate) sold for £20.9 million.

    Andy Warhol’s One Dollar Bill made £20.9 million to become the top lot at Sotheby’s Contemporary Art sale in London tonight. Painted in 1962 it was his first dollar painting. The sale brought in £130.4 million, a 40% increase on the same sale a year ago.  However the painting billed as the highlight of the sale, a Francis Bacon Pope, did not sell and neither did two Warhol silkscreens. Nonetheless this was the highest ever total for an auction of contemporary art in Europe. Two newly discovered works by Francis Bacon made £30 million and Four Eggs on a Plate, a present from Lucian Freud to the late Dowager Duchess of Devonshire made just short of one million after being chased by seven bidders.

    (See posts on for June 26, June 9 and June 1, 2015).

    Francis Bacon - Three Studies for a Self-Portrait (1980) sold for £14.7 million.

    Francis Bacon – Three Studies for a Self-Portrait (1980) sold for £14.7 million.

    Francis Bacon - Self-Portrait 1975 sold for £15.3 million..

    Francis Bacon – Self-Portrait 1975 sold for £15.3 million..


    Wednesday, July 1st, 2015
    Bidding in progress for Bacon's Study for Head of Isabel Rawsthorne and George Dyer.

    Bidding in progress for Bacon’s Study for Head of Isabel Rawsthorne and George Dyer.

    Francis Bacon’s Study for Head of Isabel Rawsthorne and George Dyer  was the top lot at Christie’s post war and contemporary art evening sale in London last night. It made £12,178,500 in an auction that achieved £95,646,500.  Bidding was particularly active for collections from the Museum of Old and New Art (£4,630,000) and The Jacobs Collection (£6,993,000).  There was enthusiasm for artists including Jean Dubuffet, Richard Hamilton and Morris Louis.

    Bidders from 34 countries across three continents competed for works by exciting contemporary artists alongside classics of the category. Records included Chris Ofili’s Holy Virgin Mary (£2,882,500), Malcolm Morley (£1,202,500), R.H Quaytman (£578,500), Jeff Elrod (£218,500), Brent Wadden (£122,500) and The Chapman Brothers (£422,500). Christie’s said the auction showed further evidence of the momentum in market that has been witnessed over a record-breaking season of sales for Christie’s across Europe and the US, with strong results not only in New York but also Amsterdam, Milan and Paris.


    Tuesday, June 9th, 2015
    Francis Bacon - Study for a Pope  1.

    Francis Bacon – Study for a Pope 1. UPDATE: IT FAILED TO SELL

    Francis Bacon’s Study for a Pope I – estimated at £25-35 million – will lead Sotheby’s contemporary art auction in London on July 1.  The auction is poised to become London’s highest value sale of contemporary art with a pre-sale estimate of  £143.2 million to £204.6 million. The 59 lot sale will include the most important collection of Andy Warhol dollar paintings in private hands.

    Bacon was obsessed with the Velazquez Portrait of Pope Innocent X.  He created his Study for a Pope I for his breakthrough retrospective exhibition at the Tate Gallery in 1962. It was in the collection of Gunter Sachs for 40 years and was sold at auction for £10 million in 2005, a record price for a work of Bacon at the time.

    Here is a video from Sotheby’s about the work:


    Thursday, April 30th, 2015
    Francis Bacon Self-Portrait, 1975 - copyright Sotheby's

    Francis Bacon
    Self-Portrait, 1975 – copyright Sotheby’s

    Led by a pair of re-discovered Francis Bacon self-portraits never seen in public before and each estimated at £10-15 million a private collection of rarely seen masterpieces comes up at Sotheby’s this summer.  The collection of 21 works will be offered across a series of sales in London, New York and Paris between May and July.  Assembled in the 1970s and 80s, the collection draws together terracotta heads from Nigeria and Ghana and works by the greats of 19th and 20th century art: Edgar Degas, Edouard Vuillard, Yves Tanguy, Henry Moore, Lynn Chadwick and R.B. Kitaj tracing the human form over 400 years.

    The Bacon portraits come up at the Contemporary Art evening sale in London on July 1.  More works will come up at the Impressionist and Modern evening sale on June 24. There will be African works in New York on May 15 and Paris on June 24.


    Friday, April 17th, 2015

    Masterpieces by Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud and Peter Doig will feature at Christie’s Post-War and Contemporary Art evening auctions in New York on May  11 and 13.  Bacon’s Portrait of Henrietta Moraes is one of the most seductive portraits of a woman he ever made. It will be presented alongside Lucian Freud’s Benefits Supervisor Resting, a masterful reworking of the traditional theme of the nude.  This is one of Freud’s most famous and iconic paintings.

    An icon of contemporary painting, Peter Doig’s Swamped conjures an extraordinary sense of atmosphere around a single solitary canoe. Rendered using a vast array of painterly techniques and processes, Swamped encapsulates the inimitable approach has come to define Doig’s contribution to the history of painting.

    Francis Bacon - Portrait of Henrietta Moraes (c$35 million).

    Francis Bacon – Portrait of Henrietta Moraes (c$35 million).  Courtesy Christie’s Images Ltd., 2015  UPDATE: THIS SOLD FOR $47,765,000

    Peter Doig - Swamped ($20-30 million).

    Peter Doig  (born 1959) – Swamped ($20-30 million). Courtesy Christie’s Images Ltd., 2015.  UPDATE: THIS SOLD FOR $25,592,000 A WORLD AUCTION RECORD FOR THE ARTIST

    Lucian Freud - Benefits Supervisor Resting ($30-50 million).

    Lucian Freud – Benefits Supervisor Resting ($30-50 million).  Courtesy Christie’s Images Ltd., 2015. UPDATE: THIS SOLD FOR $56,165,000, A WORLD AUCTION RECORD FOR THE ARTIST