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Late-Breaking Contemporary Auction News: Bacon at Christie’s; Dia Deaccessions at Sotheby’s

Francis Bacon, "Three Studies of Lucian Freud," 1969 Presale estimate: In excess of $85 million Photo by Lee Rosenbaum

Francis Bacon, “Three Studies of Lucian Freud,” 1969
Presale estimate: in excess of $85 million
Photo at Christie’s by Lee Rosenbaum

A late-breaking development on Christie’s website regarding its top-estimated lot for tonight’s big sale of Post-War and Contemporary art:

Please note that Francis Bacon’s “Three Studies of Lucian Freud,” previously lot 32, will now be included in the sale as Lot 8A following Lot 8, “Apocalypse Now” by Christopher Wool. In addition, the start of the auction will be delayed by 15 minutes from 7:00 p.m. to 7:15 p.m.

Why all this last minute maneuvering? Christie’s press office told me the changes were made “due to bidder interest” in the Bacon.

They added:

This reordering ensures that clients interested in bidding on items later in the sale have an opportunity to do so in full knowledge of the outcome of lot 8A. The start of tonight’s auction will be delayed by 15 minutes to ensure that potential buyers are informed and ready to participate in bidding as planned.

It appears the auction house feels confident that “knowledge of the outcome” of the Bacon bidding will help buoy the rest of the sale. At the Contemporary sale’s press preview, Brett Gorvy, Christie’s chairman for Postwar and contemporary art, had suggested that the Bacon’s buyer could be “one of the 100 people who can spend $100 million [including the buyers premium] for a picture.”

This is the record (set at Sotheby’s in May 2008 for what, to my eyes, is a tougher, more quintessential Bacon) that Christie’s hopes to break. (Or are they hoping to break this one?)

In other late-breaking auction news, Sotheby’s was happy to report this regarding its own Contemporary sale, occurring tomorrow night:

Early this morning, we learned that Heiner and Fariha Friedrich had withdrawn the lawsuit they had filed late last week objecting to the sale of works from Dia Art Foundation.

Here is the statement released by the Friedrichs, who were founders of Dia:

We continue to strongly oppose the proposed sale of some of the most important works in the Dia Art Foundation collection into commercial venues. Such an action is utterly wrong, and is against Dia’s mission. Dia, however, is our precious child, and we do not wish to continue to oppose it through legal action.

Randy Kennedy of the NY Times has more on this, here.

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