Francis Bacon’s canvas of his lover sold for $70,3 million at Christie’s in London on Thursday night. That was the highest price paid for a single-panel work by the artist. Christie’s had expected Bacon’s painting to sell for $50 million. The 6-foot-tall 1966 canvas, “Portrait of George Dyer Talking,” was consigned by Mexican financier David Martinez. It depicts Bacon’s lover perched on a stool, his twisted body positioned under a naked light bulb as though he were being interrogated.
“Bacon is a blue-chip commodity,” said Alan Hobart, London-based private art dealer. “He is one of the great 20th-century masters and there is an increasing global demand for his work.”
Christie’s London evening auction of Post-War & Contemporary Art realised a total of £124,192,000 ($206,158,720) selling 83% by lot and 95% by value and achieving the 2nd highest ever total for a European Auction of Post-War & Contemporary Art. Bidding was explosive for many of the 48 offered lots, eight of which failed to sell. Seventeen works fetched more than £1 million and seven artist records were set, including those for the U.K.’s Jenny Saville, Bridget Riley and Gary Hume.