A triptych by late postwar painter Francis Bacon, Three Studies of Lucien Freud, sold for $142.4 million yesterday at Christie's, setting a new record for the most expensive artwork ever sold at auction. The sale broke the previous record held by Edvard Munch's The Scream, which sold for $119.9 million in 2012.
The sale was made at Christie's Post War and Contemporary Art auction, where the auction house made an incredible $691,583,000 by the end of the night, the highest auction total in art market history. In addition to Bacon's masterpiece, works by artists including Andy Warhol, Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, and Jean-Michel Basquiat, were also auctioned off. Andy Warhol's iconic Coca-Cola sold for $57.2 million, while Jeff Koons' Balloon Dog, which sold for $58.4 million and earned the distinction of the most valuable artwork sold at auction by a living artist.
Three Studies depicts Bacon's friend and artistic colleague Lucien Freud seated on a wooden chair from three vantage points. Its sale — and the sheer amount of money made at auction — serves as a bellwether for the ongoing prosperity of the art world.