Buyer of $142.4 Million Bacon Triptych Revealed

The NY Times is reporting that the ex wife of Las Vegas casino magnate and art collector Stephen Wynn was the mystery purchases of Three Studies of Lucian Freud by Francis Bacon.  The $142.4 million purchase set a new auction record for a piece of art. The Bacon was purchased by Acquavella Galleries at the auction.

Michael Findlay, a director of Acquavella Galleries will be speaking at the ISA Conference in Kansas City in April.  Click HERE for more information on the conference, and if interested you should register quickly as ISA has seen very strong early registration numbers.

The NY Times reports
The mystery began the moment a telephone bidder bought Francis Bacon’s triptych “Three Studies of Lucian Freud” for $142.4 million at Christie’s New York in November.

The buyer was the subject of months of speculation but was never identified. One of the names that frequently popped up was that of the collector and Las Vegas casino owner Stephen A. Wynn.

That guess was not far off. Art world sources now say the buyer was his former wife, Elaine Wynn, a co-founder of the Wynn Casino Empire. Ms. Wynn has a net worth that Forbes estimated at $1.9 billion as of September.

The couple, who divorced in 2010, are both art lovers, opening galleries in some of their casinos. Over the years they have shown paintings by Degas, van Gogh and Matisse.

The best-known work in the Wynn collection was “Le RĂªve,” the 1932 Picasso, after which they named a casino. (In March, Mr. Wynn sold that painting to Steven A. Cohen, the hedge fund billionaire, for $155 million.)

Ms. Wynn’s office said that she was traveling and could not be reached for comment. But those who know her say Bacon, born in Ireland in 1909, is one of her favorite artists.

She already owns another painting by him and over the years has expressed interest in buying other triptychs by him as they came on the market.

This painting, which depicts the artist Lucian Freud, a friend of Bacon’s, sitting on a wooden chair against an orange background, is one of only two existing full-length triptychs of Freud and was included in the Bacon retrospective at the Grand Palais in Paris in 1971-72.

The price was well above the $85 million that Christie’s had estimated it would fetch. Five bidders tried to buy the triptych. Ms. Wynn was determined, however, and could afford it.

Ms. Wynn’s main home is in Las Vegas, and she has one in New York.

She has only a few works of art, a dealer familiar with her collection said, and nothing approaching the magnitude of the Bacon triptych.

Unlike her former husband, she has never been a high-profile presence in the art world. However, she is a member of the board of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, which, coincidentally, does not own a Bacon.

Last month, she anonymously lent the painting to the Portland Art Museum in Oregon, where it is on view through March 30.
Source: The NY Times

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