Francis Bacon’s “Trotsky” triptych fetched up to $75 million at auction


LONDON, February 23 (Reuters) – A triptych by Francis Bacon depicting the aftermath of the 1940 assassination of Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky in Mexico City is expected to fetch up to $75 million when it goes under the hammer next week comes.

Described by Christie’s as one of the last great paintings by the iconoclastic Irish-born painter, ‘Triptych 1986-7’ features then US President Woodrow Wilson leaving the 1919 Versailles meeting after World War I, and Bacon’s friend John Edwards on the other two canvases.

The British auction house’s estimated price for the work, which is part of a March 1 sale of Masterpieces of the 20th and 21st Century in London, is £35-55 million ($48-75 million).

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“Bacon lived between 1909 and 1992, most of the 20th century,” Katharine Arnold, director of post-war and contemporary art at Christie’s in Europe, told Reuters.

“And here he reflects on the passage of time, those moments that were pivotal in Western history in particular, but also impacted the world at large.”

Other lots in the auction include Lucian Freud’s 1986-87 portrait Girl with Closed Eyes, estimated at £10-15 million.

A surrealist self-portrait by Pablo Picasso won the auction “Art of the Surreal” that took place the same evening.

The 1929 piece entitled ‘La fenêtre ouverte’, depicting the Spanish artist and his muse Marie-Thérèse Walter, is estimated at between £14m and £24m.

“This is one of 37 large-scale Marie-Thérèse paintings that are the most expensive Picassos on the market,” said Olivier Camu, vice-chairman of Christie, Impressionist and Modern Art.

“Of these… only 13 are privately owned. The last one we sold sold for $103 million last year.”

($1 = 0.7352 pounds)

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Reporting by Will Russell; Additional reporting by Marie-Louise Gumuchian; Writing by Marie-Louise Gumuchian and John Stonestreet

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