Francis Bacon’s triptych of his lover George Dyer reached a “landmark” price of £26.7 million ($48 million) at Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Sale that surpassed estimates and set new record for a small-scale triptych by the artist. Bacon’s work which Sotheby’s said was one of about 40 such triptychs that the artist painted in a format of 11 by 14 inches for each of the three frames, was the star of the sale which grossed £93,1 milion ($159.3 million). Of the 59 lots offered during the 90-minute event, eight failed to sell, and even with that the total topped the pre-auction top-end estimate of £68 million ($161 million).
The triptych was particularly sought after as it was painted in 1964, within the first year of Bacon’s meeting his lover and frequent sitter George Dyer. The studies are based on photographs taken by John Deakin, a well-known photographer whom Bacon commissioned to take pictures of his entourage.
The buyer of the triptych was not identified, but the New York Times reported that Helena Newman, the chairwoman of Sotheby’s Impressionist and Modern art department in Europe, took the winning bid, beating out three other rivals.
Bidding was also brisk for a portrait of another of Bacon’s lovers Peter Lacy, which sold for £4.5 million ($7.5 million).