Francis Bacon's John Edwards triptych estimated at $80m

A triptych by Francis Bacon titled Three Studies for a Portrait of John Edwards is valued at $80m ahead of Christie's Post War and Contemporary Art Evening sale in New York.

The auction will take place on May 13.

The work depicts the titular John Edwards, an East-end bar manager and close friend of Bacon, and was executed in 1984.

For the last 18 years of Bacon's life, he and Edwards were the closest of friends and Edwards even inherited his £11m estate. The piece is considered one of Bacon's most important works of the 1980s.

John Edward Francis Bacon
The triptych depicts John Edwards - a close friend of Bacon

Brett Gorvy, Christie's chairman and international head of post-war and contemporary art, commented: "We are honoured to announce one of the greatest paintings from Francis Bacon's acclaimed Late Period.

"Three Studies for a Portrait of John Edwards, executed in 1984 was the centrepiece of the artist's retrospective at the London Tate Gallery in 1985-86, and a work that the artist himself ranked amongst his best works.

"It shows an incredible tenderness and harmony that was prompted by Bacon's paternal relationship with the sitter, and this period of contentment elicited a confidence of style that has been compared to late Matisse."

The work sold for a significantly lower £3m ($4.4m) at Christie's London in 2001, indicating Bacon's rise in popularity among collectors over the past decade.

In November last year, his triptych Three Studies of Lucien Freud made $142.4m at Christie's New York - setting a new world record for a work of art at auction.

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