Francis Bacon's Provocative Masterpiece Fetches 21.3 Million Pounds
Portrait of Francis Bacon, by John Vanderbank (ca. 1731), after a portrait by an unknown artist

A rare portrait of a naked model sprawled across a bed, painted by famous English philosopher and scientist Francis Bacon sold for £21.3 million, at Christie's, during a Post-War and Contemporary Art sale in London on Feb. 14.

The sale was also boosted by the sale of Gerhard Richter abstract artwork.

Bacon's artwork - "Portrait of Henrietta Moraes" - was described in the catalogue as "the most seductive painting of a female figure ever realised by Francis Bacon" and was sold to an unnamed telephone bidder.

"I am thrilled with the outstanding results of our evening auction of Post-War & Contemporary Art, the second highest total in these rooms for the category, only surpassed by the June 2008 auction at the height of the market (£86.2 million). Following the exceptional success of the Henry Moore last week, the best of British was completed by the Francis Bacon, 'Portrait of Henrietta Moraes' which achieved over £20 million. Having had only two owners in its near 50 year history, the work had not been on the open market before and had not been seen in public for almost twenty years," said Francis Outred, Christie's Head of Post-War & Contemporary Art, Europe.

The Telegraph UK reported that overall, the auction, which had been expected to raise £56.7 million to £84 million after a Mark Rothko painting was withdrawn to be sold privately, made £80.6m.There were three artist auction records, including for Christopher Wool, whose untitled work went under the hammer for £4.9 million, surpassing expectations of £2.5 million to £3.5 million.

Other highlights included a 1953 Nicolas de Stael landscape "Agrigente," which sold for £5.3 million and a 1948 Lucian Freud drawing "Boat, Connemara" valued at £657,250.