Seductive Henrietta portrait fetches €25m
Published 15/02/2012 | 05:00
A PAINTING of a female nude by Francis Bacon sold in London last night for £21.3m (€25.4m).
Bacon's sexually charged 1963 canvas 'Portrait of Henrietta Moraes', showing one of his favourite models sprawled across a bed, had been valued at about £18m (€21.5m) in a 65-lot auction of contemporary art at Christie's International.
The buyer was Sumiko Roberts, a London-based member of Christie's client services, acting for a customer on the telephone, outbidding at least one other telephone bidder.
The painting had been entered from an unidentified "distinguished New York collection", according to Christie's catalogue. The seller was Sheldon Solow, a prominent Manhattan real estate developer and art collector, who had bought the work from Galerie Beyeler, Switzerland, in 1983, dealers said. Christie's refused to comment on ownership.
Mr Solow was also the seller of a Joan Miro painting and a Henry Moore bronze that sold for record prices of £16.8m (€20m) £19.1m (€22.8m) at Christie's auction of Impressionist and modern works on February 7.
London, with its sizeable population of wealthy international residents, has become an increasingly attractive auction venue for the sale of high-value modern and contemporary artworks. Dublin-born Bacon is the most expensive artist at auction in the UK.
This particular portrait had never appeared at public sale before and had no guaranteed minimum price, said Christie's. It dates from the year that the painter embarked on his relationship with George Dyer.
Moraes was a close friend of Bacon's during the 1950s and 1960s.