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Francis Bacon work tops Edvard Munch's 'The Scream' for auction record

Francis Bacon work tops Edvard Munch's 'The Scream' for auction record
The bidding was heated Tuesday for the 1969 work by Francis Bacon, "Three Studies of Lucian Freud," at Christie's in New York. (Christie's / Associated Press)

A 1969 triptych by Francis Bacon was sold Tuesday for a whopping $142.4 million, breaking the record for a work of art sold at auction. The previous record holder was Edvard Munch's "The Scream," which sold for $119.9 million in 2012.

Bacon's "Three Studies of Lucian Freud" was sold as part of a Christie's auction in New York of postwar and contemporary art that brought in a total of $691.6 million. The Bacon work depicts his fellow British artist in three different seated poses against an orange background.

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The work was reportedly purchased by art dealer William Aquavella for an unidentified client. The heated bidding lasted several minutes and featured rival offers from seven hopeful buyers, according to the New York Times.

Tuesday's auction also featured the $58.4-million sale of Jeff Koons' "Balloon Dog (Orange)," a record for a living artist.

The record Bacon sale is the latest in a line of big sums forked over for works of art. Munch's 1895 "The Scream" was bought at a Sotheby's auction in New York in 2012. Prior to that, the record holder was Picasso's 1932 “Nude, Green, Leave and Bust” that sold for $106.5 million at a Christie's auction in 2010.

Earlier that same year, Alberto Giacometti's sculpture "Walking Man I" had set the record by selling for $104.3 million at Sotheby's in London.

But the record purchase for any work of art (not just at an auction) is believed to be held by Cezanne's "The Card Players" that sold in 2011 for more than $250 million. The painting was purchased by the royal family of Qatar in a private sale from the estate of the Greek shipping tycoon George Embiricos.

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