Francis Bacon's Man in Blue VII (1954) led a sale of art from the collection of Zeineb and Jean-Pierre Marcie-Riviere at Christie's Paris on June 8-9.
It's described by the auction house as the "fifth most important collection sold in France in the last decade."
The Bacon work provided the highlight, achieving a solid $6.8m.
It's the last of seven Man in Blue paintings executed during a very rough patch in his relationship with George Lacy in the mid-1950s.
Bacon was often forced to escape to hotels for days on end to escape his lover's violent, drunken rages.
The model for the painting was a man he had a liaison with in Henley-on-Thames.
Christie's explains the work's uneasy pull: "Immersed in a deep sea of midnight blue, the slender figure of a man is seen cast into the shadows, isolated, trapped in the dark…
"The expression of Bacon's genius lies precisely in this face, whose features have been meticulously distorted with an impulsive sweep of the brush.
"In this final incarnation of 'Man in Blue VII' Bacon achieves what mattered most for him in his work - creating a pictorial sensation that 'acts directly on the nervous system'".
Meanwhile a Roman marble torso of a dancing satyr made $5.4m - a new record for an antique torso statue at auction.
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