Francis Bacon’s 1976 triptych became the most expensive work of contemporary art ever sold at auction for $86.3 million. Experts feared that the art market would falter seriously this season because of broad economic anxieties. But the success went well beyond even the auction house’s expectations, bringing in $362 million, above the sale’s high $356 million estimate. The evening’s golden moment was when Francis Bacon’s triptych a vast (each of the three panels measures about 6 ½ feet by 5 feet) and densely painted allegorical painting came up for sale.
Only 10 of the 83 works failed to sell, and 18 artist records were set for names ranging from Yves Klein and Piero Manzoni to Tom Wesselmann and Takashi Murakami.