[Pounds Sterling]25m Bacon Leads Battle of the Art Auctions; Modern Classic: Study of A Nude with Figure in A Mirror by Francis Bacon Goes on Sale at Sotheby's in February

Article excerpt

Byline: AMAR SINGH

A PAINTING of a grotesque nude woman by Francis Bacon is set to sell formore than [pounds sterling]25 million as London's two big auction houses go head to head incontemporary art sales.

Study Of A Nude With Figure In A Mirror, painted in 1969, is expected to be theheadlinegrabbing work in a week of auctions at Sotheby's from 5 February.

Other lots include an Andy Warhol portrait of Judy Garland and works byPicasso.

It will be the first time Sotheby's has held a contemporary art auction formore than a single dayreflecting the huge appetite for topend modern works in today's market.

On Monday 4 February, rival auction house Christie's will launch sales of itsown.

Among its lots will be Lucian Freud's sketch of Bacon, part of a [pounds sterling]3 millioncollection owned by the late artist R B Kitaj.

The sales will offer an accurate assessment of the contemporary art market,which has seen prices for top works quadruple in the past decade. Largelybecause of this, both Sotheby's and Christie's have enjoyed a hugely profitableyear. Christie's boasted the highest half-yearly sales in art market history,while Sotheby's made its highest global turnover.

Both houses sold more than $1.7billion ([pounds sterling]858 million) of Impressionist andcontemporary art in New York in November. …