Saleroom history was made in New York last night as Francis Bacon’s 'Three Studies Of Lucian Freud' set a new high for any lot ever sold at auction.
The triptych from 1969 drew a prolonged bidding battle at Christie's before it was knocked down to the New York dealers Acquavella at $127m (£83m), a price which exceeded the $107m (£69m) seen for one of the four versions of Edvard Munch's The Scream at Sotheby's New York in May 2012 which was previous record for a work of art sold at auction.
While Acquavella were believed to be acting on behalf of a client, the reported underbidders included fellow Manhattan gallery owners Larry Gagosian and Hong Gyu Shin.
The price was also well in excess of the previous record high for Bacon - Triptych from 1976 that went for $77m (£41.4m) at Sotheby's New York in May 2008 and was believed to be have been purchased by Roman Abramovich.
Christie's post-War and Contemporary art sale also saw Jeff Koons's sculpture Balloon Dog (Orange) sell to a phone bidder at $52m (£34m), a record for a living artist. One of five sculptures by Koons in different colours, this example was being sold by Peter M. Brant, the print-media businessman and art collector who will use the proceeds to help fund his art study centre in Connecticut.
The buyer was listed as 'international trade' by the auctioneers.
With eight further records at the sale - including new auction highs for Willem De Kooning, Lucio Fontana and Christopher Wool - the 69-lot auction posted a premium-inclusive total of $691.6m (£452m) which was the highest in art market history.
Exceeding the $491.5m (£271m) total for the famous 'Bloch-Bauer' sale at Christie's New York in November 2006, this became the most lucrative single auction ever held by some distance.
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