The artist’s iconic 1969 triptych Three Studies of Lucien Freud reached the record-breaking price after six minutes of fierce bidding. The sale shattered the old record of $119 million, which was set by Edvard Munch’s The Scream, which sold at Sotheby’s last year.
“This is the most important painting to come to auction for a generation,” Christie’s postwar-art director Francis Outred said.
“It’s not just one of Bacon’s greatest triptychs, it’s also a very careful study of one of his best friends and a painter who would come to rival him as one of the greatest figurative painters of the 20th century.”
Bacon’s three-part work is an image of fellow painter Lucien Freud -- grandson of Austrian psychologist Sigmund Freud -- sitting on a wooden chair in different positions.
The six-foot-high piece was separated for a time until a collector in Rome spent 20 years bringing the masterpiece back together by tracking down sections in Paris and Japan.