A Triptych Sells for $142 Million

Here’s a summary of the article (NYTimes):

“A 1969 triptych by Francis Bacon sold Tuesday night at Christie’s for $142.4 million, described as the highest price ever paid for an artwork at auction.

Seven bidders vied for the painting – “Three Studies of Lucian Freud” – that depicts Bacon’s friend and rival, Lucian Freud, sitting on a wooden chair against an orange background. It ended up selling for $142,405,000.”

Here’s a link to the NYC showroom where the artwork was sold, in case any of you have a few million to throw around: http://www.christies.com/locations/salerooms/new-york/

If your reaction is like mine, you’re probably thinking that paying so much for this/an artwork is a) an almost-comical waste of money, and b) undermines the artwork by placing a focus on its “value” or “cost” and distracting from its message.

What I’m wondering is, what could be the justification for paying so much for this artwork (if you think that works of art should even be bought in the first place)?

Imagine yourself in the position of the buyer. What are you thinking?



Irrelevantly, the both the painter and the subject of the artwork share names with famous historical figures (Francis Bacon and Freud).

Also, Francis with an “i,” not an “e.” Thanks, Professor.

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One Response to A Triptych Sells for $142 Million

  1. lilokuo says:

    Knowledge is power, France is bacon.

    All jokes aside, art has become a commodity and when money speaks, art is silenced.
    The people who have purchased this painting are no idiots; it is not a comical waste of money. Art collectors are investors, and the reason why they pay such money for a painting is not for appreciation but rather for its resale value. Antiquities will get more and more valuable as time pass, and many individuals have turned into millionaires because they were intelligent enough to take advantage of artists and purchase art before they become expensive. In the dawn of Pop Art, individuals such as Scull purchased art for few hundreds and resold for millions.

    Below is a link to one of Robert Hughes’ documentary on how art has become an enterprise of mass consumption and profit. If you can stand his gloomy outlook on the current state of art, the documentary is worth a watch. …


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