Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 23 September 2014

Collectors snap up British art

Three studies of Isabel Rawsthorne by Francis Bacon sold for more than 11 millions pounds

Masterworks by British contemporary art giants Francis Bacon and David Hockney have sold as part of a £75 million bonanza.

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 £5 million and £7 million at the Sotheby's auction in central London.

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: "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.

"Participation was truly global, making it a strong night for British art, photography, European abstract works and German artists."

Global art lovers with deep pockets ensured more than 90% of lots sold achieved prices at or above presale estimates and 21 lots sold at over £1 million.

David Hockney's colourful tribute to his home country, Double East Yorkshire, had an estimated value of £3 million, but sold for £3.4 million to a private collector in Asia.

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