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Last Updated: Friday, 24 June, 2005, 11:16 GMT 12:16 UK
Record 4.9m for Bacon portrait
Francis Bacon's Portrait of George Dyer Staring into a Mirror

A painting by Francis Bacon of one of his lovers has sold at a London auction for 4.9m, a new record for the artist.

Portrait of George Dyer Staring into a Mirror reached the price at a Post-War and Contemporary Art auction by Christie's on Thursday.

The 1967 painting, sold to a private collector from Europe, had only been expected to sell for up to 3.5m.

Other works auctioned included Lucian Freud's Bella, a nude portrait of the artist's daughter, which fetched 1.8m.

Christie's says the Bacon sale beats the previous record for the artist, set by Studies of the Human Body, which was sold by Sotheby's in New York in 2001 for $400,000 less than Thursday's London auction.

Irish painter Bacon began a homosexual relationship with petty criminal Dyer in 1964.

They were together until 1971, when Dyer committed suicide on the eve of Bacon's major retrospective at the Grand Palais in Paris.

'Strong market'

Bacon, who dealt with themes of death and decay in his work, amassed an 11m fortune from painting sales before he died aged 82 in 1992.

Freud painted nude portraits of both his daughters

Freud's Bella portrait had been given a high estimate of 2.2m.

He painted his daughter - fashion designer Bella Freud - when she was a young adult.

Andy Warhol's 1981 portrait Joseph Beuys was auctioned for nearly 1.7m while Jean Michel Basquiat's Untitled was sold for 1m.

The total value of the 57 lots sold was 24.4m.

Fernando Mignoni, director and head of Christie's Post-War and Contemporary Art department in London, said the auction results showed "the continued strength and health of the market".

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