The Brooklyn Museum is deaccessioning, a Francis Bacon painting from its collection, Pope (ca. 1958), and offering it for sale at Sotheby’s in New York next month in order to raise money to support its collection. It is estimated to make between $6 million to $8 million on the block.
A museum parting with a high-profile work is something of a rarity, though industry guidelines allow sell-offs in cases where the resulting funds are used to buy more work or care for the collection. The Brooklyn Museum has not detailed its exact plans for the proceeds. It said that “while the work is exceptional, postwar European art is not a focus of our collection. As part of ongoing collection review, we’ve chosen to sell this particular work and use the proceeds to more sharply focus on institutional collection priorities.”
Over the past couple years, the Baltimore Museum of Art and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art have made headlines by parting with prominent works in order to raise funds to diversify their collections.
The Brooklyn Bacon heading to Sotheby’s for its November 14 sale of contemporary art is one of six “Tangier Paintings” that the artist painted in that Morocco city. The American collector Olga H. Knoepke acquired this work in 1967, and gave it to the Brooklyn Museum in 1981.
The Brooklyn Museum still holds one Bacon in its collection, according to online collection database: a 1984 lithograph titled Oedipus and the Sphinx that is based on his 1983 painting of the same name, which is held by the Museu Coleção Berardo in Lisbon.