Bacon Hailed the New Picasso as Triptych Sets [Pounds Sterling]43m Record; Masterpiece: The Francis Bacon Triptych 1 E, an Allegorical Triple Canvas Inspired by Greek Mythology and Described as " One of the Great Th-Century Paintings", Was Sold to a Mystery European Buyer in New York Last Night

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Byline: TOM TEODORCZUK

A FRANCIS BACON masterpiece has sold for [pounds sterling]43 million in New York,smashing the record price for a contemporary artwork and bringing more cheer toa resurgent art market.

Triptych 1976, a huge allegorical triple canvas inspired by Greek mythology,soared over its [pounds sterling]36 million ($70 million) estimate as a protracted bidding warbetween two telephone bidders escalated until the painting went to a mysteryEuropean buyer.

Sotheby's auctioneer Tobias Meyer said: "It is one of the great 20th centurypaintings. Francis Bacon describes the human condition.

"He has taken the place of Picasso." Last night's sale surpassed the [pounds sterling]37.4million ($72.8 million) fetched by Mark Rothko's White Center (Yellow, Pink andLavender on Rose) at Sotheby's New York exactly a year ago and marked the fifthtime in three years that a record has been set for the sale of a Baconpainting.

The previous record was [pounds sterling]27 million ($52.7 million) sale of his Papal-inspiredStudy from Innocent X, 1962, set at Sotheby's New York in May last year.

But the evening's other showcase lot, Rothko's 1956 Orange, Red, Yellow, wentunsold, failing to find a bidder prepared to meet its $35 million estimate.

That fate also befell Brit art icons Damien Hirst and Banksy.

Hirst's 1997-98 medicine cabinet Da Silvano's failed to sell and his 1996canvas "...inarguably beautiful painting (for over the sofa)" fetched [pounds sterling]600,000($1.16 million), below its [pounds sterling]1 million estimate.

But Hirst's 2006 spot painting Dicyclohexylammonium Nitrate sold for [pounds sterling]970,000($1.89 million), above its high estimate of [pounds sterling]920,000 ($1. …