A masterpiece by Francis Bacon has become the most valuable piece of artwork ever sold by auction house Christie’s in Europe after going under the hammer for a record £42.2m (€51m).
The 6ft-tall canvas of Bacon’s former lover and muse George Dyer had been estimated to sell for around £28m but was bought for almost double that by an anonymous buyer over the phone.
Dyer died of an overdose in Paris two days before the painting was displayed at Bacon’s first major retrospective at the Grand Palais in 1971.
The piece, called ‘George Dyer Talking’, is the most significant large-scale portrait of Dyer to be offered at auction in more than a decade.
A depiction of Mickey Mouse by acclaimed artist Damien Hirst was also auctioned off for £902,500, with all the proceeds going to children’s charity Kids Company.
Hirst’s work, which represents the figure of the Disney character with a series of large circles, was expected to fetch £300,000, but went for triple that.
Kids Company was founded by Camila Batmanghelidjh in 1996 to provide practical, emotional, and educational support to vulnerable inner-city children, and currently helps 36,000 children in London and Bristol.
Hirst said: “Brilliant and amazing. Sad to see Mickey go but that is a great result, I’m so pleased to be able to help Kids Company.”
The works were auctioned off as part of Christie’s Post-War And Contemporary Art evening auction in London. Also included in the sale was a Jeff Koons sculpture depicting a cracked egg.
The most expensive of Bacon’s work was his triptych of Lucian Freud, which sold for £85.3m at Christie’s New York in November 2013.
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