Most expensive artwork ever sold at auction

Francis Bacon painted Three Studies of Lucian Freud at London’s Royal College of Art in 1969 after his studio was destroyed in a fire.
A painting by Francis of his friend and fellow artist Lucian Freud has become the most expensive artwork ever sold at auction after it fetched $142m (£89m, 106m euros) in New York.

The triptych, Three Studies of Lucian Freud (1969), is considered one of Bacon’s greatest masterpieces.

It was sold after six minutes of fierce bidding, Christie’s auction house said.

The price eclipsed the $119.9m (£74m) paid for Edvard Munch’s The Scream last year.

At the same auction, Jeff Koons broke the world record for a price paid for a single artwork by a living artist.

His sculpture Balloon Dog (Orange) – one of a series of five stainless steel sculptures in varying colours – fetched $58,4m (£36.7m).

The previous record for a living artist was set by a Gerhard Richter painting depicting an Italian city square, which sold in May for $37.1 million (£23.3m).

It was the first time Three Studies of Lucian Freud had been offered at auction and bidding opened at $80m (£50m, 60m euros). Its presale estimate was $85m (£53m, 64m euros).

A telephone bidder won with an offer of $127 million (£80m), which, after commission, means they will pay a total of $142m.

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