Francis Bacon's Screaming Pope exceeds estimate by 19% at Sotheby's

The record-breaking Contemporary Art Evening Auction at Sotheby's has seen a painting from Francis Bacon's Screaming Pope series sell with superb results.

Francis Bacon's Screaming Pope
The series was inspired by a 1650 masterpiece

The 1954 untitled piece sold for $29.7m in New York yesterday (November 13), topping its $18m-25m valuation by 19%. The auction saw impressive results across the board, with Mark Rothko's No.1 (Royal Red and Blue) selling for a breathtaking $75.1m.

Bacon has seen some excellent results in 2012, with Study for Self-Portrait achieving $31m at Christie's in June. Ever popular, he is emerging as one of the most desirable artists in the current market.

Sotheby's Oliver Barker, who has been advising on and studying the Screaming Pope work for six years, commented prior to the sale: "Bacon is the artist everybody is seeking at the moment, he is in many ways top of the pile. To find something of this date, of this subject, of this importance is really a very notable moment."

Bacon's famed Screaming Pope series draws inspiration from Diego Velazquez's 1650 masterpiece, Portrait of Pope Innocent X, and is said to be the artist's expression of the post-war horror he experienced.

The most accomplished piece of the series, Study after Velazquez's Portrait of Pope Innocent X, is currently on display in Los Angeles.

Also starring in the sale were abstract works from Willem de Kooning and Gerhard Richter, who are also among the art world's most wanted. De Kooning's 1949 piece Abstraction sold for $19.6m, comfortably within its $15m-20m estimate, while a 1990 work from Richter's Abstraktes Bild series sold for $17.4m.

Richter is currently the world's most valuable living artist, after another piece from the Abstraktes Bild series - which originated from the collection Eric Clapton - sold for £19.2m ($34.2m) at Sotheby's on October 12.

Sign up to Paul Fraser Collectibles' free weekly newsletter for more of the latest from across the art world and exclusive investment advice.

Featured products

Elvis Presley Authentic Strand of Hair
Elvis Presley Authentic Strand of Hair
Sale price£399
In stock
Fidel Castro signed certificateFidel Castro Signed Certificate
Fidel Castro signed certificate
Sale price£2,995
In stock
King Henry VIII Autographed DocumentKing Henry VIII Autographed Document
King Henry VIII Autographed Document
Sale price£55,000
In stock