With the big-ticket spring sales of Impressionist, modern, and contemporary art in New York just about a month away, the auction houses have begun to trickle out news of their priciest offerings, and today Christie’s revealed that it has on tap a large Francis Bacon, Study for Portrait (1977), with an on-request estimate that is said to be in the region of $30 million.
The work is fresh to market, coming from the holdings of collector Magnus Konow, who acquired it from Marlborough Gallery in the ’70s and has held onto it ever since. Konow and Bacon were friends, and spent time gambling in the casinos of Monte Carlo, which sounds like a pretty great time. Measuring some 78 by 58 inches, the painting depicts Bacon’s lover George Dyer, who died in 1971. “Bacon would always talk about Dyer,” Konow said in a statement issued by Christie’s. “I think that he was the only man he really loved in his life. I find this work is so powerful—for me it is probably one of the best paintings of their mystical love affair, and that’s what drew me to it.”
In November 2013, a 1969 Bacon triptych of fellow painter Lucian Freud sold at Christie’s in New York for $142.4 million, then a record for the most ever paid for a piece of art ever sold at auction (at least when not account for inflation). That figure has been eclipsed by works by Modigliani, Picasso, and, of course, Leonardo.