€11.7m drug painting is Francis Bacon record

A Francis Bacon masterpiece sold for $15m (€11.7m), setting a new auction world record for a work by the Irish artist.

A Francis Bacon masterpiece sold for $15m (€11.7m), setting a new auction world record for a work by the Irish artist.

Version No 2 of Lying Figure with Hypodermic Syringe features a reclining female nude, based partly on his friend Henrietta Moraes, in the grip of a drug trip.

Her arm is pierced by a needle, although Bacon claimed it served a purely visual purpose and had no sinister connotations.

Moraes was a key member of Bacon’s select inner circle and a fellow regular at Soho’s Colony Club in London.

The 1968 work sold to an anonymous buyer last night at Sotheby’s in New York for $15,024,000 (€11.7m), easily beating the previous record of $10.1m (€7.9m).

A total of 15 records were set at the auction, among them one for a work by Anish Kapoor.

His untitled carved alabaster sculpture from 1999 sold for $2,256,000 (€1.8m), substantially more than the $450,000 (€350,900) it had been expected to fetch.

The previous record for a work by Kapoor was $844,444 (€658,500).

The Bacon was one of a series of pieces from the collection of Roger Vanthournout, a Belgian furniture manufacturer who died last year, which were sold by his widow Josette.

Moraes was the erstwhile wife of Indian poet Dom Moraes and claimed to have attended the Colony Club just so that Bacon would paint her.

He did so at least a dozen times.

Tobias Meyer, Sotheby’s Worldwide Head of Contemporary Art, said the auction house was “thrilled” with the results of the sale, which made a total of $125.1m (€97.6m).

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