Francis bacon’s portrait fetches $27.7 million at sotheby’s, leading vibrant contemporary art auction.

In a standout moment at Sotheby’s spring sales in New York on Monday, a portrait by British maestro Francis Bacon, capturing his profound affection, commanded an impressive $27.7 million, taking center stage on the inaugural night of contemporary art auctions, which amassed a collective $234.6 million.

Although slightly below Sotheby’s initial valuation range of $30 million to $50 million, this portrait, the first in a series of 10 depicting George Dyer between 1966 and 1968, made its eagerly anticipated auction debut.

While falling short of the highest-ever price paid for a single-panel portrait by Bacon, set at $70.2 million from the same Dyer cycle, the sale underscored the enduring appeal and value of Bacon’s oeuvre in the art market.

American luminary Joan Mitchell emerged as another luminary of the evening, with her masterwork “Noon” exceeding expectations by fetching over $22.6 million, continuing a positive trajectory since November when two of her pieces surpassed $20 million for the first time.

The event witnessed several noteworthy records, including the $19 million achieved for a collaboration between Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat, marking the highest-ever price paid for such a partnership, and the nearly $23 million for a work by Lucio Fontana, the highest price ever paid for the Italian artist at auction.

Additionally, a sculpture by Frank Stella commanded over $15 million, further exemplifying the fervent demand for exceptional pieces.

The auction also highlighted the burgeoning recognition of recently deceased African-American artist Faith Ringgold, whose work fetched over $1.5 million, tripling her previous record, indicative of the increasing appreciation for her artistic contributions.

French-Israeli Patrick Drahi’s auction house is poised for another evening of modern art sales on Wednesday, featuring prominent works by artists including Claude Monet, Pablo Picasso, Alexander Calder, Rene Magritte, and British artist Leonora Carrington.

Despite a 14 percent decline in the art market’s sales to $14.9 billion last year compared to 2022, online transactions witnessed an impressive 285 percent surge. Sotheby’s aims to capitalize on this momentum, aiming to collect between $549 million and $784 million this week in New York, buoyed by strong results in Europe. The market is predominantly led by American investors and collectors, closely followed by buyers from Asia.