Belfast Telegraph

Bacon nude painting fetches £21m

A "sexually charged" nude portrait by Francis Bacon has sold for £21 million.

The Portrait Of Henrietta Moraes had been in the hands of a private collector for 30 years and unseen in public for 15 years until it was put on display prior to the sale at Christie's in London.

The huge price, which exceeded expectations, made it the second most valuable work of post-war contemporary art ever sold at the auction house, behind another piece by Bacon, whose Triptych sold in February 2008 for £26.3 million.

The world record price for one of the Irish artist's paintings was set in May 2008 when Triptych (1976) went for £43 million in New York.

His Henrietta Moraes portrait was painted in 1963, with most of his works from that year now housed in major international museums.

Francis Outred, Christie's head of post-war and contemporary art, Europe, said the portrait was "one of the most seductive and sexually-charged paintings I have ever encountered by Francis Bacon".

The £21.3 million price - which includes the buyer's premium - was more than £1 million higher than the top estimate.

The oil painting, measuring 65in (165cm) by 56in (142cm), went to an anonymous bidder.

Tuesday night's sale also saw a 1994 work by Gerhard Richter, Abstraktes Bild, go for £9.9 million.

Prices totalled £80.6 million, the second highest figure for a post-war contemporary sale at Christie's London.

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