Francis Bacon painting of Lucian Freud fetches $142m, becoming most expensive artwork sold at auction

A painting by Francis Bacon of his friend and fellow artist, Lucian Freud, has become the world’s most expensive artwork sold at auction, fetching $142m (£89m) at Christie’s in New York.

The huge triptych, Three Studies of Lucian Freud, was painted in 1969 at London’s Royal College of Art, after Bacon’s own studio burned down. It is recognised as being among Bacon’s most impressive works.

Bidding lasted just six minutes, and the artwork was sold to an anonymous telephone bidder.

The price surpassed the previous record set by the sale of Edvard Munch’s The Scream, which sold for $119.9m (£74m) last year.

Christie’s described the work as “a true masterpiece that marks Bacon and Freud’s relationship” and their “creative and emotional kinship”.

The three panels were separated for 15 years in the 1970s, and the auction house held the first public viewing of the works together.

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