Francis Bacon painting of his 'only true friend' auctioned for £47m in New York
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Francis Bacon painting of his 'only true friend' auctioned for £47m in New York

A PAINTING by Francis Bacon of the man he described as his ‘only true friend’ has sold for £47million at a New York auction.

The triptych Three Studies for a Portrait of John Edwards, painted in 1984 by the Irish artist, was among the prize lots within a record-breaking night for contemporary art at Christie’s auction house.

It fetched £47.4million after being snapped up by a mystery Chinese buyer during the evening sale on Tuesday, May 13.

The piece depicts Edwards, a barman and former model, who first met Bacon in Soho in 1974, sitting on a stool with his leg resting on his knee.

Bacon painted his friend more than 20 time before his death in 1992 and left most of his £11m fortune to him in his will. Edwards died in Bangkok in 2003.

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Other sale highlights included an abstract entitled Black Fire I by Barnett Newman, which fetched £49.7million, and Andy Warhol’s iconic 1982 portrait White Marilyn, which went for £24.2million.

Ten new world auction records were set during the post-war and contemporary art sale, which amassed a total sale of £439.5million.

The multi-million pound price fetched for the Bacon piece follows the historic world record sale for his work Three Studies of Lucian Freud which sold for £85.3million at Christies last November.