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Real Time Insight

Art prices continue to hit record highs as Francis Bacon's "Three Studies of a Lucien Freud" was sold at auction at Christie's on Tuesday for $142.4 million, an all-time high for a single artwork.

The 1969 triptych had never been offered at auction before and had a pre-auction estimate of about $85 million. The most expensive previous Bacon painting had sold in 2008 for $86.3 million.

It sold within six minutes. The buyer remains anonymous.

You may recall that the prior record was set in 2012 when Edvard Munch's "The Scream" was sold in a Sotheby's auction for $120 million.

Not to be outdone, at the same auction, which was a sale of a group of contemporary works, a sculpture by Jeff Koons brought a new record for a living artist.

Balloon Dog (Orange), a 10-foot stainless steel sculpture looking like a child's party balloon, sold for $58.4 million to an unknown buyer. It is part of a group of 5 Balloon Dog sculptures.

There was also a Warhol, Coca Cola (3), which sold for $57.2 million, but that was not a record for a Warhol, however. The Warhol record was set in 2007 when one sold for $71.7 million.

A total of $691.5 million was brought in at the auction on Tuesday, a single day auction record.

For several years, art experts have been warning of a bubble in the art market yet prices continue to go higher.

Is the art market signaling a top as the rich pay ever higher prices for assets including real estate and stocks?


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