Bidding war drives up Francis Bacon work value at £75m Sotherby’s auction

09:01 27 June 2013

A central London auction house last night saw works by British contemporary artists including Francis Bacon and David Hockney sell for millions of pounds.

A 1966 triptych portrait of Bacon’s friend, muse and lover Isabel Rawsthorne went for £11,282,500 while the first work the artist ever sold, his historic Head III, was battled for by six collectors, driving the price to £10,442,500.

It had been estimated to sell at somewhere between £5million and £7million at the Sotheby’s auction yesterday evening.

The triptych was purchased by an anonymous buyer and Head III went to an American private collection.

Fifty-four years ago, just across the road from Sotheby’s at the Hanover Gallery in St George Street, the same work fetched £150 at Bacon’s first commercial show.

Alex Branczik, head of Sotheby’s London Contemporary Art Department said last night: “Tonight’s sale was all about the quest for quality - quality across categories - from the modern masters to the new generation of artists.

“We offered some great historic works of art and achieved some great prices for them, as buyers went down the connoisseurial route - buying with intelligence and passion.

David Hockney’s colourful tribute to his home country, Double East Yorkshire, had an estimated value of £3million, but sold for £3.4million to a private collector in Asia. Altogether, works sold at the auction last night totted up £75million.

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