I’m riffing off the Times “Top 200 Artists of the 20th Century” list (see previous post) with what Forbes magazine on Nov. 11, 2013 said was “The Reason Why Francis Bacon’s ‘Lucian Freud’ Is Worth $142 Million.” 

British artists Bacon and Freud were famously friends and friendly rivals. Bacon is 12th on the list while Freud is 30th, well ahead of Edvard Munch’s 46th ranking. Munch’s “The Scream” held the previous art auction record when it sold for $120 million at Christie’s New York on May 8th 2012 (see The Scream Thickens.)

There is a confluence of factors as to why the piece sold for such an astronomical price, but the main reason, according to the author is “As the ultra-wealthy become even wealthier, the top-end of the art market, along with real estate and other luxury sectors, have experienced an incredible surge as cash is being channeled into alternative investments.”

Three Studies of Lucian Freud, Francis Bacon 1969

Three Studies of Lucian Freud, Francis Bacon 1969

That’s evident by the price fetched for “The Scream.” To be a little more specific as to why “Three Studies of Lucian Freud” sold for so much lies in the Bacon market. It has an intrinsic value given its importance from an historical perspective.   

“The subject matter is very important for the Bacon market given the well documented camaraderie and rivalry he had with Lucian Freud,” said Kenneth Galbraith, an art market analyst.


HISTORICAL NOTE: This excellent feature article ran in The Spectator on Dec. 14, 2013:

Friends, soulmates, rivals: The double-life of Francis Bacon and Lucian Freud