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Painting sells for world-record price of $142.4 million

IMAGE: Three Studies of Lucian Freud
Three Studies of Lucian FreudShannon Stapleton / Reuters

Francis Bacon's three-paneled painting "Three Studies of Lucian Freud" became the most expensive work of art ever sold at auction on Tuesday when it soared to $142.4 million at Christie's.

IMAGE: Three Studies of Lucian Freud
Francis Bacon's 1969 triptych,Christie's handout / EPA

The 1969 triptych, never before offered at auction and which carried a pre-sale estimate of about $85 million, easily eclipsed the $119.9 million price of Edvard Munch's "The Scream," achieved in May of last year at Sotheby's.

The painting sold after a protracted bidding war in the packed New York salesroom and via telephone. Christie's did not disclose the identity of the successful buyer.