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Since Francis Bacon’s “Three Studies of Lucian Freud” (1969) sold at Christie’s for $142.4 million in New York last November a rash of paintings by that Irish-born artist have emerged for sale. The auction at Sotheby’s on Monday night, which kicked off the contemporary art sales here, will be remembered for buoyant bidding on a triptych by Bacon from 1964, which brought $45.4 million, well above its $33.6 million high estimate.

Four telephone bidders fought for the painting, “Three Studies for Portrait of George Dyer (on Light Ground),” which depicts the artist’s lover and was painted at the height of their affair.

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This past November, Francis Bacon’s triptych portrait Three Studies of Lucian Freud (1969) sold for $142.4 million at Christie’s, setting an artist’s record and becoming the most expensive work ever sold at auction. Less than a month later, the massive contemporary masterpiece turned up on loan, not at a modern-day art mecca like New York’s Museum of Modern Art (as Edvard Munch’s The Scream did), but on the opposite end of the US, at the Portland Art Museum in Oregon. The painting, which remained on view there through early April, was loaned by its new owner Elaine Wynn, ex-wife of casino mogul and top collector Steve Wynn. Mrs. Wynn, a resident of Nevada, was reportedly entitled to save more than $10 million in taxes by first parking the painting at the Portland Art Museum before bringing it to her home state.

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This past November, Francis Bacon’s triptych ‘Three Studies of Lucian Freud’ sold for $142 million at Christie’s in New York, making it the most expensive painting ever sold at auction. Rumors swirled after the buyer’s name was not immediately revealed, with some speculating that Paul G. Allen, the cofounder of Microsoft and an avid art collector, had purchased the painting.

Nearly two months after the sale, it has been reported that the buyer was Elaine Wynn, former wife of Las Vegas casino owner and collector Steve Wynn. Elaine Wynn, who is a co-founder of the Wynn Casino empire, is estimated to have a net worth of $1.9 billion. The couple, who divorced in 2010, are the owners of a remarkable art collection and Ms. Wynn serves on the board of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

Painted in 1969, ‘Three Studies’ depicts Bacon’s friend and artistic rival, Lucian Freud. It is one of only two existing full-length triptychs of Freud and it was included in the Grand Palais’ Bacon retrospective in Paris during the early 1970s.

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The Portland Art Museum in Oregon will exhibit Francis Bacon’s ‘Three Studies of Lucian Freud,’ the most expensive artwork ever sold at auction. The triptych, which sold for $142 million at Christie’s in November, will go on view beginning December 21.

The presentation of the Bacon painting will be part of the museum’s Masterworks / Portland series, which is now in its fifth year and provides an opportunity to study a single object and artist in depth. Previous works that have been featured in the series include Raphael’s ‘La Velata,’ Titian’s ‘La Bella,’ and Thomas Moran’s ‘Shoshone Falls on the Snake River.’

While the painting’s owner has not been publicly announced, the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation helped make the Portland Art Museum’s presentation of the Bacon triptych possible. Allen, the cofounder of Microsoft, is a major art collector, leading many to believe that he purchased ‘Three Studies of Lucian Freud’ from Christie’s.

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On November 12, Christie’s Evening Sale of Post-War and Contemporary Art in New York achieved an unprecedented $691,583,000 – the highest total for any auction in art market history. The top lot was Francis Bacon’s triptych, Three Studies of Lucian Freud, which garnered $142,405,000, a world record for any artwork ever sold at auction.

The highly anticipated painting, which was was expected to sell for $85 million to $95 million, portrays Lucien Freud, Bacon’s friend and fellow artist. Executed in 1969, the work is one of Bacon’s most important paintings and unites two of the most significant figurative artists of the 20th century.

The sale set ten new world auction record prices for Bacon, Jeff Koons, Christopher Wool, Lucio Fontana, Donald Judd, Wade Guyton, Vija Celmins, Ad Reinhardt, Willem de Kooning and Wayne Thiebaud. Three works sold for over $50 million, 16 went for above $10 million, and 56 works exceeded $1 million. In addition, Jeff Koons’ Balloon Dog (Orange) achieved $58,405,000, a new world auction record for a living artist and the most expensive contemporary sculpture ever sold.

Brett Gorvy, Chairman and International Head of Post-War and Contemporary Art at Christie’s, said, “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. 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.”

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A triptych of Lucian Freud by Francis Bacon could sell for over $95 million at Christie’s Post-War and Contemporary Art Sale on November 12, 2013. Three Studies of Lucian Freud from 1969 carries an estimate of $85 million at hammer price but fees would be added to that amount.

The painting of Bacon’s painter friend is being offered by an unidentified European seller and has never appeared on the auction market before. The work was included in the seminal Bacon retrospective organized by Paris’ Grand Palais in 1971-72.

Three Studies of Lucian Freud will be on view at Christie’s King Street during Frieze Art Week from October 13-18, 2013 before heading to the auction in New York in November. Francis Outred, head of Post-War and Contemporary Art, Christie’s Europe, said, “We are honored to announce the sale of an undeniable icon of twentieth century art. A conversation between two masters of 20th century figurative painting, Francis Bacon’s triptych, Three Studies of Lucian Freud, executed in 1969 is a true masterpiece that marks Bacon and Freud’s relationship, paying tribute to the creative and emotional kinship between the two artists.”

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