The Artist, His Muse and His Muse's Lover (Not to Mention an U11 Million Legacy, a Famous Lesbian Dominatrix and a Mysterious Shooting); with the Death of Francis Bacon's Close Friend Who Had Inherited His Fortune, We Can Tell an Amazing Story That Begins with an East End Burglary

Article excerpt

Byline: JONATHAN COOPER

WITH a suicide, some petty criminals, a brilliant artist, his homosexual lover and a mysterious shooting, the only element missing seems to be murder. It is the story of the legacy of Francis Bacon and it all begins with a death.

Not the 1992 death of Bacon, the brilliant artist in question - the Soho bohemian, irascible charmer and ill-tempered drunk, a sadomasochistic homosexual who could move from gentleman to boor in the downing of glass.

And not even the death of his long-time friend and sole beneficiary of his u11 million will, John Edwards, who died of lung-cancer in a Thai hospital this week and opened a whole new mystery into the ownership of Bacon's paintings and the worth of his estate.

The death that starts this whole tale is the suicide of Bacon's lover George Dyer, sitting on a lavatory bowl with blood coming out of his nose and mouth, having swallowed fistfuls of sleeping pills in a Paris hotel room in 1971.

Dyer was a small-time criminal when he met Bacon, and the artist delighted in telling the story of their first meeting. As he told it, Dyer was at work, burglarising Bacon's studio, which then was on Narrow Street in the East End.

But he hadn't realised the artist was in residence and asleep.

Bacon said that he woke up, saw the burglar and immediately said: "Take all your clothes off and get into bed with me. …

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