Updated: Friday, 14 February 2014 05:30 | By Agence France-Presse

Bacon oil painting breaks Christie's record

A portrait by British artist Francis Bacon depicting his lover and muse George Dyer sold for over £42 million ($70 million, 51 million euros) at Christie's in London on Thursday, a European record for the auction house. 

Bacon oil painting breaks Christie's record

A Christie's employee looks at a work entitled 'Portrait of George Dyer Talking' by British artist Francis Bacon at Christie's in central London on February 7, 2014 - by Andrew Cowie

Oil masterpiece "Portrait of George Dyer Talking", painted at the height of Bacon's powers, was first shown in Paris in 1966 -- the year of its creation -- and then at the artist's legendary first museum retrospective at the city's Grand Palais five years later. 

The exhibition opened two days after Dyer had committed suicide.

The six-foot (1.83 metre) tall painting shows a contorted Dyer sitting on a stool under a bare light.

It is the most ever spent on a single-panel work by the figurative artist, who died in 1992.

A Bacon triptych -- "Three Studies of Lucian Freud" -- sold for $142.4 million in New York last year, smashing the world record for the most expensive piece of art auctioned.

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