Global art market sizzles with $142 million Bacon sale

Wed Nov 13, 2013 2:50pm EST
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By Patricia Reaney

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The record breaking $142.4 million sale of Francis Bacon's "Three Studies of Lucian Freud" shows confidence in the art market and that the very wealthy see it as a safe haven for their money, experts said on Wednesday.

Bacon's 1969 three-panel painting, the most valuable ever sold at auction, was one of 10 world record prices set at Christie's Tuesday evening sale of post-war and contemporary art. The New York event achieved the highest auction total in art market history with $691 million in sales.

The Bacon work sold after six minutes of fierce bidding, easily surpassing the previous record of $119.9 million set in May 2012 for Edvard Munch's "The Scream."

Jeff Koons' sculpture, "Balloon Dog (Orange)" fetched $58.4 million, the highest auction price for a work by a living artist.

"What we are experiencing now is a kind of melt-up in the market. It is a combination of tremendous surplus capital, and the need of this small band of ultra-high-net-worth individuals to invest all that surplus cash in assets that will appreciate," said art advisor Todd Levin, the director of Levin Art Group in New York.

"Art, for better or worse, is one of these places that they feel is a safe haven to put their money to work," he added.


Art collectors with deep pockets from 42 countries registered for Christie's sale, with Americans, Europeans and Asians among the strongest bidders.   Continued...

Artist Francis Bacon's "Three Studies of Lucian Freud" is seen during a media preview at Christie's Auction House in New York, October 31, 2013. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton