Christie’s Fails to Sell Bacon Painting
The work of Francis Bacon’s Study of Red Pope 1962. 2nd version 1971, was marketed with an on-request estimate of £60 million to £80 million ($78.4 million to $104.5 million), which, if achieved, would have made it the priciest artwork ever sold at auction in Europe. However, Christie’s could not find a buyer in that range, and the lot flopped.
The auction house had been spinning Bacon hagiography for a month, highlighting the fact that the painting hadn’t been seen publicly in 45 years.
Titled “Study of Red Pope 1962. 2nd Version 1971,” the 6.5-foot-tall canvas depicts Bacon’s two most famous subjects: his lover George Dyer and Pope Innocent X.
A smaller Bacon painting, “Head with Raised Arm" (1955), depicting Pope Pius XII, sold for 11.5 million pounds on Friday, above the high estimate, after the commission was added.
Christie’s sale is continuing during Friday evening in London. Sotheby’s completed its series of contemporary auctions in London tallying $114.1 million.