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    Tuesday, March 6th, 2018

    Christie’s Post War and Contemporary art sale in London tonight realised £137.4 million.  This is the highest total for any sale of Post War and Contemporary art ever held in Europe.  The top lot was Andy Warhol’s Six Self Portraits which realised £22.6 million.  There were registered bidders from 36 countries across five continents and the aucton was 92% sold by lot and 96% sold by value.

    (See posts on for March 3 and February 12, 2018)

    Francis Bacon – Three Studies for a Portrait made £10 million.

    Jackson Pollock – Number 21, 1950 made £9.3 million.


    Friday, October 27th, 2017

    Portraits of celebrated muses by Francis Bacon and Pablo Picasso come up at Sotheby’s in New York next month.  Francis Bacon’s Three Studies of George Dyer (estimate $35-45 million) depicting the artist’s great love and most prevalent subject, comes up at the Contemporary Art evening sale on November 16.  Pablo Picasso’s Buste de femme au chapeau (estimate $18-25 million) comes up at the Impressionist and Modern evening sale on November 14.  Each work is appearing at auction for the first time.  

    Pablo Picasso, Buste de femme au chapeau, Oil on canvas, Estimate $18/25 million

    Francis Bacon, Three Studies of George Dyer, Oil on canvas, in three parts, Estimate $35/45 million


    Friday, September 15th, 2017

    Francis Bacon, Study of Red Pope 1962. 2nd Version 1971

    Francis Bacon’s landmark painting Study of Red Pope 1962, 2nd version 1971,  will come up at Christie’s Post War and Contemporary Art evening sale on October 6 during Frieze Week.  It stands as the grand finale to his celebrated body of Papal portraits and is the only painting that unites the Pope with his greatest love George Dyer, who is depicted as the Pope’s reflection.

    First exhibited on 26 October 1971, in the legendary retrospective of Francis Bacon’s work at the Grand Palais in Paris, Study of Red Pope 1962,  2nd version 1971 was executed six months earlier in April 1971. It has been unseen in public for 45 years.  This is the first and only time in his oeuvre that Bacon united his two greatest obsessions: the Pope and George Dyer – his great muse and lover.

    The canvas became a tragic premonition of Dyer’s fateful end when, less than thirty-six hours before the opening of the career-defining exhibition, Dyer was found dead. Acquired by the family of the present owner in 1973 this work has appeared in all the major publications dedicated to Bacon’s work but never exhibited publicly.


    Wednesday, September 6th, 2017

    Francis Bacon – Head with Raised Arm

    Francis Bacon’s Head with Raised Arm will be a highlight of Christie’s Post War and Contemporary Art evening auction on October 6 during Frieze week.  The 1955 painting estimated at  £7,000,000 – £10,000,000 will be unveiled for the first time in over half a century. Last exhibited in 1962 at the Galleria Civica d’Arte Moderna, Turin, the work was acquired by the present owners the following year, and has remained hidden from public view ever since.

    The location of this papal portrait was listed as ‘unknown’ in the most recent version of the catalogue raisonné published last year by Martin Harrison. Riddled with quiet introspection and human tension, it belongs to a group of nine surviving paintings depicting the then-incumbent, Pope Pius XII. With four held in museum collections, and a further on permanent loan, Bacon’s portraits of the living Pope are among his most profound.

    It will be on view from September 8 at, Christie’s Rockefeller Center, New York; from September 18 at Christie’s Hong Kong and in London from September 30. 


    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..