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Francis Bacon

Bacon “rubbish” including sketches and diaries makes £1m at auction

An alternative end for the rubbish that was to be thrown out from Bacon’s famously chaotic studio at 7 Reese Mews in London

Discarded paintings, letters, diaries and photographs from the studio of Francis Bacon sold for over £1m ($2m) in a country saleroom last month.

Pre-sale expectations for the 45 lots were just £50,000 (The Art Newspaper, March 2007, p51). What turned into a treasure trove for the vendor, an electrician called Mac Robertson, was a disparate group of trash which was about to be thrown out when Mr Robertson, who had met Bacon at his favourite pub, the Zetland Arms, asked to keep it. Thirty years later he consigned the items to Ewbanks in Surrey.

Broadcast live over the internet and mobbed by buyers and telephone bidders, the sale on 24 April made £1.13m ($2.26m) shattering the estimate, with all but one of the lots sold.

The top price was paid for a small Study for a Portrait (undated) which sold to an unidentified continental buyer for £470,000 ($940,000, est £12,000-£18,000); a study of a dog at rest went to a London dealer for £305,500 ($611,000, est £2,000-£3,000) and Bacon’s diary for 1971, recording the suicide of his lover George Dyer, sold for £2,000 ($4,000, est £300-£500).

Originally appeared in The Art Newspaper as 'Bacon “rubbish” makes £1m'