Francis Bacon artwork sells for $142 million

NEW YORK — A 1969 painting by Francis Bacon set a world record for most expensive artwork ever sold at auction.

“Three Studies of Lucian Freud” was purchased for $142,405,000 at Christie’s postwar and contemporary art sale on Tuesday night. The triptych depicts Bacon’s artist friend.

The work sold after “6 minutes of fierce bidding in the room and on the phone,” Christie’s said in a statement. The price includes the buyer’s premium. Christie’s did not say who bought the painting.

The price 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 his 1976 “Triptych.” That sold for $86 million in 2008.

Among other highlights scheduled to be auctioned at Christie’s is a bright orange-yellow and white oil painting by Mark Rothko. Reminiscent of a radiating sunset, the 1957 large-scale “Untitled (No. 11)” could fetch up to $35 million. In May 2012, Christie’s sold Rothko’s “Orange, Red, Yellow” for $86.8 million, a record for any contemporary artwork at auction.

Christie’s also has an iconic Andy Warhol, “Coca-Cola (3),” 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.

On Wednesday evening, Sotheby’s is offering Warhol’s “Silver Car Crash (Double Disaster),” a provocative double-panel painting that could bring as much as $80 million.

Warhol produced four paintings in the “Death and Disaster” series. The other three are in museums.

Measuring 8 feet by 13 feet, the 1963 silver work captures the immediate aftermath of a car crash, a twisted body sprawled across its mangled interior. It has been seen in public only once in the past 26 years.

Other blue-chip offerings at Christie’s on Tuesday include Jeff Koons’ whimsical “Balloon Dog (Orange),” a 10-foot-tall stainless steel sculpture resembling a twisted child’s party balloon. It is expected to sell for up to $55 million. It is one of five balloon dogs Koons has created in different colors. All are in private hands. It is being sold by newsprint magnate Peter Brant to benefit his Brant Foundation Art Study in Greenwich, Conn.

Also on tap is a masterpiece by German painter Gerhard Richter from the collection of Eric Clapton. Painted in gold and orange hues, the 1994 “Abstract Painting” is estimated to bring as much as $20 million. Richter’s photo-based “Cathedral Square, Milan” brought $37 million at Sotheby’s in May, setting a record for any living artist at auction.

Roy Lichtenstein’s “Seductive Girl” could bring up to $28 million. The artist auction record is $56 million for “Woman With Flowered Hat,” sold at Christie’s in May.

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