Christie’s breaks auction records with Three Studies of Lucian Freud

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Christie’s Post-War and Contemporary Art evening sale in New York achieved $691.6m, the highest total for an auction sale in art market history, with a strong sell-through rate of 98% by value and 91% by lot.

The sale also achieved wider headlines for setting the new world auction record for any work of art ever sold at auction.

The highly anticipated Francis Bacon Three Studies of Lucian Freud, 1969, sold for $142.4m after fierce bidding between two telephone bidders plus a persistent client in the saleroom.

The painting is regarded as one of the most important by the artist, uniting two of the 20th century’s greatest figurative painters at the apex of their relationship. The extremely rare triptych, executed almost 25 years after Francis Bacon and Lucian Freud met, had never been presented before at auction.

Bidders from 42 countries competed for an offering of masterworks from all the major art movements of the last six decades. Bidders vied for works by artists including: Francis Bacon, Andy Warhol, Donald Judd, Lucio Fontana, Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Jeff Koons, Christopher Wool, Roy Lichtenstein and Jean-Michel Basquiat.

“We are thrilled to announce an historic total of $691.6 million for this evening’s sale of Post-War and Contemporary Art. It is the second time this year that Christie’s has broken the highest total in auction history,” said Brett Gorvy, chairman and international head of Post-War and Contemporary Art at Christie’s.

“Collectors from 42 countries registered tonight with strong bidding from American, European and Asian collectors but also from institutions. The sale was heavily focused on icons and masterworks, achieving an astonishing 10 record prices and breaking the record for any work of art ever sold at auction. Beyond the records, 10,000 art lovers flocked to Christie’s galleries in the last week to engage with and enjoy the remarkable selection of artworks on display.”