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Last Updated: Wednesday, 21 March 2007, 12:16 GMT
Rescued Bacon items to go on sale
Study for a portrait by Francis Bacon (The Robertson Collection)
This Study for a portrait is considered the highlight of the sale
Paintings by Francis Bacon and items belonging to the artist that were rescued from being thrown away about 30 years ago are to be sold at auction.

Ewbank auctioneers say the sale of items including photographs, diaries and letters is a first, and could earn much more than its 50,000 estimate.

A friend was allowed to keep the items which Bacon wanted to throw away after the pieces were disturbed by workmen.

The sale takes place next month at Ewbank auction rooms in Woking, Surrey.


Mac Robertson was an electrical contractor who became a friend and drinking partner of Francis Bacon while carrying out work at the artist's London studio in the late 1970s.

Mr Robertson rescued the items after they were disturbed by his workmen at the famously chaotic studio and an "incensed" Bacon wanted them all thrown away.

"I think he wanted something to remember Bacon by," said Christopher Proudlove, of Ewbank Auctions.

"I think he was very impressed with Bacon, as Bacon was with him - they hit it off well together in a short space of time."

The incident took place in about 1978, according to Mr Robertson, who has been in possession of the items ever since.

The sale, divided into 45 lots, includes three oil paintings and four mutilated portraits - Bacon was renowned for destroying much of his work.

Photograph of Francis Bacon (The Robertson Collection)
Bacon's work concentrated on images of horror and degradation
One of a number of diaries on sale includes a poignant handwritten note about the suicide of Bacon's lover George Dyer, in 1971, which simply reads: "George died in Paris."

An oil painting with an estimate of 12,000 to 18,000 is the highest-valued item.

But Mr Proudlove said there "has been no precedent on which to set estimates" for the sale.

"How do you value a portrait in which the features of the sitter have been cut out?" he said.

"How do you value a handwritten letter, a telegram, a diary? Intrinsically these items have little value, but connected to Francis Bacon, who knows?"

At auction last month, a Bacon portrait earned a record price for the artist of 14m.

Bacon died in Spain in 1992.

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09 Feb 07 |  Entertainment
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