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Last Updated: Friday, 9 February 2007, 10:48 GMT
Bacon portrait breaks sale record
Study for Portrait II
Francis Bacon painted Study for Portrait II in 1956
A Francis Bacon portrait has sold for 14m at an auction in London, a record price for the artist.

The Study for Portrait II, painted in 1956, was sold to an anonymous bidder at Christie's on Thursday evening.

The portrait, one of more than 50 of Catholic church leaders created by Bacon, had been expected to fetch 12m.

The previous record for a Bacon painting was $15m (7.8m), set by Version No 2 of Lying Figure with Hypodermic Syringe in New York in 2006.

Study for Portrait II is said to show a sympathetic side to the Pope as a tragic hero overwhelmed by external forces.

"It is the most important work from Bacon's Pope series to appear on the market," said Pilar Ordovas, the director of contemporary art at Christie's.

She added that "it established Bacon's position as one of the leading artistic figures of the 20th century."

Bardot portrait

Bacon was born in Ireland to English parents but he left Ireland when he was a teenager. He died in Spain in 1992.

Before the auction, the painting had not been seen in public since 1963.

Other works sold at the post-war and contemporary art sale included a portrait of Brigitte Bardot by Andy Warhol, which sold for 5.3m, more than double its estimate price.

The record sale comes in a bumper week for the art auctions - another sale at Sotheby's New Bond Street auction house raised 45.7m on Wednesday evening.

Iconic works

Sotheby's said the total was a record for a contemporary art sale in Europe.

On Monday, sales at Sotheby's Impressionist and modern art sale in central London made almost 95m, another European record.

Charles Dupplin, an art expert at specialist insurer Hiscox, said: "This year is picking up where 2006 left off and we are seeing a number of iconic art works up for sale. The Francis Bacon portrait has capped off a great week of sales.

"Our figures show that contemporary art values have risen dramatically in the last year.

"Any serious collector would love to have this piece in their collection so it is no surprise that it has broken records."


SEE ALSO
$15m sale beats Bacon art record
15 Nov 06 |  Entertainment
Chance to enjoy Bacon paintings
26 Sep 06 |  Bradford
Bacon self-portrait makes 3.8m
23 Jun 06 |  Entertainment

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