Christie’s auctioneer Jussi Pylkkänen
Christie’s auctioneer Jussi Pylkkänen selling Cy Twombly’s ‘Leda and the Swan’ which was knocked down at $47m (£36.4m).

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The 71-lot sale achieved a strong selling rate with 68 lots (96%) finding buyers, and the premium-inclusive total of $448.1m (£347.3m) looked relatively healthy against the $339m-462m presale estimate.

This was in spite of the withdrawal of a Willem de Kooning abstract estimated at $25m-35m.

Among the top lots on offer was Bacon's Three Studies for a Portrait of George Dyer which was knocked down at $46m (£35.7m).

The oil on canvas in three parts dated from 1963 at the beginning of the artist’s relationship with Dyer, his lover and muse. Dyer features in at least 40 of Bacon’s paintings and these are regarded as some of his most arresting works.

Formerly in the collection of author Roald Dahl, this triptych came to auction from a French vendor and had an estimate of $50m-70m.

Francis Bacon triptych

‘Three Studies for a Portrait of George Dyer’ by Francis Bacon which sold for $46m (£35.7m) at Christie’s evening sale of Post-War and Contemporary Art in New York.

The price for the Bacon was marginally eclipsed by the sum for Twombly’s large abstract Leda and the Swan which was the top lot of the auction.

Estimated at $35m-$55m, it drew a number of phone bidders but was eventually knocked down at $47m (£36.4m) to dealer Larry Gagosian in the room.

Christie’s evening auction had followed Phillips’ 20th Century & Contemporary Art day sale which generated a premium-inclusive $18.6m (£14.4m) and, according to the auctioneers, was the highest total for a day sale in the company’s history.

The buyer’s premium at Christie’s and Phillips was 25/20/12%.

£1 = $1.29