Francis Bacon’s masterpiece, “Triptych 1976,” could fetch $70 million when it’s auctioned by Sotheby’s on May 14.
Experts call it the most important Bacon work in private hands.
The large, three-panel work is full of symbolism and draws on ancient Greek mythology. The same collector has owned it for more than 30 years. It was purchased in 1977 from the Galerie Claude Bernard in Paris. The Tate Gallery in London and the Georges Pompidou Centre in Paris also have shown it.
The current auction record for a Bacon work is $52.7 million, held by “Study for Innocent X, 1952.” It was sold by Sotheby’s last May.
Bacon, who died in 1992 at age 82, is considered one of Britain’s most important 20th-century artists. His powerful, often grotesque work has commanded huge sums at auction. Last month, his “Triptych 1974-77” sold at a Christie’s auction in London for more than $51 million.
The three-part painting was the last in a series of haunting works Bacon painted after the suicide of his lover, George Dyer, in 1971. The three canvases depict Dyer’s naked, contorted form writhing on a nearly deserted beach.