A set of paintings by Francis Bacon has become the most expensive work of art ever sold, after it fetched $142 million (£89m./€106m) at an auction at Christie's in New York. The portrait of Bacon's friend and fellow artist Lucian Freud was completed in 1969 and is often considered one of the late artist's finest works.

According to a statement from Christie's, 'Three Studies of Lucian Freud' sold following a fierce bidding war that lasted roughly six minutes, with the identity of the winning bidder being witheld by the auction house. It was the first time Bacon's 'Three Studies...' has been put up for auction, with the bidding opening at $80 mil. (£50m/€60m). The estimated pre-sale price was placed at $85 million, a figure that the final bid easily beat.

The painting was completed by Bacon, who is well known for his triptychs (or three panel works of art), in 1969 at the Royal College of Art in London, after a fire had ravaged through his personal studio. The painting is one of many works by Bacon depicting his friend and fellow artist Freud, who in turn would paint Bacon on various occasions. The two met in 1945 and became close friends soon after, remaining good friends until the 1970s.

The price fetched for Bacon's triptychs breaks the record set just last year for the most amount paid for a work of art. Edvard Munch's 'The Scream' sold for $119.9 mil. in 2012, with the record standing at $106.5 mil. before that. That record was set in 2010 for Picasso's 'Nude, Green Leaves, and Bust,' which had broken the previous record only months after Alberto Giacometti's 'Walking Man I' sold for $104.3 mil. earlier in 2010.

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