Up for sale after 41 years, Francis Bacon’s Study for Portrait is estimated to fetch $30 million

Up for sale after 41 years, Francis Bacon’s Study for Portrait is estimated to fetch $30 million

Francis Bacon’s lighter take on grief
Half-a-billion dollars of 20th century art is hanging at Sotheby’s and Christie’s in London for a few days this week, waiting to go to New York for sale next month. From Basquiat, Picasso and Monet, to Rothko, Warhol, and Giacometti, they are all there as a roll-call of the greats.

Carrying the highest price tag of around $70 million at Christie’s is a curvaceous 1930s polished bronze of the American heiress, Nancy Cunard, by Constantin Brancusi. A portrait of Elvis Presley, valued at $30 million, will test the Warhol market as it was bought six years ago for slightly more than that.

The latest addition to this line-up, announced today and on view in London for the first time since it was painted and bought in 1977, is a large figure painting by Francis Bacon, Study for a Portrait, also estimated at $30 million. The painting is thought to refer to the artist’s lover, George Dyer, who died six years earlier.

After a long period of dark paintings, Bacon here comes to terms with grief with a lighter palette, imagining Dyer’s reincarnation. It is being sold by Monaco based collector, Magnus Konow, with whom Bacon would stay when in the principality.

Christo unveils plans for Serpentine lake sculpture
Work has begun on the Serpentine Lake, preparing the platform for the first major temporary sculpture in London by the Bulgarian-American artist Christo, known for wrapping buildings and sites such as the Reichstag in Berlin and the Pont Neuf in Paris.


The Mastaba Project for Serpentine Lake, London Hyde Park CREDIT: ANDRE GROSSMANN

Timed to coincide with the forthcoming exhibition at the Serpentine Gallery in June for Christo and his late wife and artistic collaborator, Jeanne-Claude, the project, entitled The Mastaba, will not involve wrapping anything, but instead balancing 7,506 painted barrels weighing 500 tonnes on a floating platform, like a pyramid in the middle of the lake.

Everything, down to the protection of the last blade of grass and the ecosystem of the lake, has been approved by The Royal Parks. As with all Christo’s public projects, the structures are temporary and paid for entirely by the sale of his original drawings and collages.

The project is estimated to cost him $4.2 million, and the drawings and collages – a smaller number than for most projects because this one is for a shorter duration – are beginning to go up on his website priced from $100,000 (£80,000) to $900,000 (£732,000) each.