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Friday, 22 June, 2001, 08:49 GMT 09:49 UK
Posters bid to find stolen Bacon
Lucien Freud and Francis Bacon
Freud (l) and Bacon were post-war contemporaries
Berliners have woken up to find their city plastered with "Wanted" posters depicting the face of the late celebrated artist Francis Bacon.

The posters offer a reward of 300,000 German marks (100,000). Yet it is not Bacon himself they are demanding, but the return of a portrait of the artist stolen 13 years ago.

The poster is designed by Freud
The poster is designed by Freud
The 1951 painting, worth an estimated $1.4m, is by artist Lucian Freud - Bacon's respected contemporary now aged 79.

Freud has designed the campaign posters, commissioned by The British Council.

"This is unique. As far as I know we have never done anything like this before," said a council spokesman.

The portrait was taken in broad daylight from Berlin's Neue Nationalgalerie in May 1988.

'Extraordinary'

The council has been prompted to find it so that it can star in a major Freud retrospective at the Tate Britain gallery in London next year.

The council's director of arts, Andrea Rose, said on Thursday: "This is an extraordinary painting, a portrait of one national icon by another. I would dearly like to see it back where it belongs."

The reward has been put up by an anonymous donor. The council spokesman said whoever returned the painting could claim the money without fear of prosecution.

Legacy

Bacon was one of the 20th Century's most commercially successful artists, earning about 14m from his paintings before his death.

He dealt with themes of death and decay and his style has often been called existentialist.

Bacon was born in Dublin on 28 October 1909. He died in 28 April 1992, in Madrid, Spain.

Freud was born in Berlin, a grandson of Sigmund Freud, and came to England with his parents in 1931. He acquired British nationality in 1939.

Portraits and nudes are his specialities. His meticulous style has been described as "realist" and set him apart from other more figurative British artists since World War II.

See also:

09 May 01 | Arts
Bacon sale hits world record
22 Nov 98 | Entertainment
Lost Bacons unearthed
29 Mar 01 | Arts
London's artists on the move
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