Francis Bacon triptych to go on view in Oregon; buyer remains unknown

Bidders compete for Francis Bacon's "Three Studies of Lucian Freud," at a Christie's auction in November in New York.
(Christie’s / Associated Press)

The Francis Bacon triptych that recently sold for a record-breaking amount at auction will go on public display at the Portland Art Museum in Oregon starting Saturday.

But the identity of the buyer who shelled out $142.4 million for the work remains a mystery.

“Three Studies of Lucian Freud,” created in 1969, was sold as part of a Christie’s auction in New York in November. The $142.4 million paid for the piece represents a record amount for a work of art sold at auction, breaking the previous record held by Edvard Munch’s “The Scream” of $119.9 million in 2012.


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The Portland Art Museum announced this week that the piece -- which depicts three views of artist Lucian Freud -- will remain on view through March 30. After that, the triptych is expected to return to the private collection of its owner.

The buyer remains anonymous to the public, though the Portland museum’s director, Brian Ferriso, appears to have made contact. Ferriso said in a statement that “when the collector agreed to our request to exhibit the triptych, we knew that it would be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our visitors to see this seminal work.”

In its announcement, the museum acknowledged the support of the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, the charitable organization headed by the Microsoft co-founder. A spokeswoman for the foundation said she doesn’t normally comment on Allen’s personal acquisitions, but added that “we can confirm he doesn’t own that piece of art.”

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The foundation is supporting the museum with a three-year programming grant worth a total of $180,000.


Bruce Guenther, the Portland museum’s chief curator, told the New York Times this week that the owner of the piece is from the West Coast.

For many years, the triptych had been separated, with the individual parts sold into private collections. The three pieces were reunited in the 1990s.


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