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"Three Studies of Lucian Freud," (1969) by Francis Bacon - The Highest Price Paid For A Painting In Auction History


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There was a lot of news recently about "Three Studies of Lucian Freud," the triptych by Francis Bacon (1909-1992) that recently fetched a world record $142.4 million at auction.

(Lucian Freud)

Nobody knew who the mystery buyer was, however, until recently. It turns out the buyer was none other than Qatar which, in terms of money spent on art, has recently become an electric Qatar - they're hosting the World Cup in 2022, and they're not messing around, spending $1 billion a year on art.

Edit: It turns out the New York Post was incorrect in reporting that Qatar purchased the painting:

"Did Sheika Al-Mayassa Buy The Bacon? Update: No" by Rozalia Jovanovich on blogs.artinfo.com

"Francis Bacon Triptych To Go On View In Oregon; Buyer Remains Unknown" by David Ng on lattimes.com

"The Reason Why Francis Bacon's "˜Lucian Freud' Is Worth $142 Million" by Agustino Fontevecchia on forbes.com


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During this decade, 49 out of the 50 most-expensive works sold through Christie's and Sotheby's.

"The Decade in Art, Christie's' and Sotheby's' Supremacy, and 2019 Highlights" on mutualart.com

On Dec 12, 2013, "Three Studies of Lucian Freud" claimed the crown of "highest price ever paid for a painting at auction." Now, six-years later, it has been surpassed by four other works (two by Modigliani, one by Picasso, and one by da Vinci). This is all nicely laid out in the above article - Modigliani is certainly a "blue-chip artist," but who could have possibly guessed that he would have two of the four-most expensive works ever sold?

This will all change, of course, but for now, it is what it is.

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