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John Edwards, 53; Artist Francis Bacon’s Closest Friend, Heir

From Staff and Wire Reports

John Edwards, 53, who was the artist Francis Bacon’s closest friend for 18 years and heir to his paintings and property, died Tuesday in Bangkok of lung cancer.

The model for at least 30 of Bacon’s portraits, Edwards was a barman in London’s East End when he met Bacon, 40 years his senior, in 1974.

The two men became close friends. Bacon relied on Edwards to destroy works that he deemed unsatisfactory. He also took him along on his frequent gambling and drinking forays into London nightlife.

A measure of Bacon’ s trust in Edwards, the Daily Telegraph wrote Friday in reporting Edwards’ death, came in 1988, when Edwards represented the painter in Moscow at the opening of an exhibition of his work.

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When Bacon died of a heart attack in 1992 at the age of 82, Edwards inherited the painter’s house and studio, cash and an unknown number of his works valued at about $17 million.

Edwards was born in London. He had dyslexia and never learned to read or write. He found work as a barman and worked in a number of pubs before meeting Bacon. After Bacon’s death, Edwards lived in the Florida Keys before moving to Thailand.


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