Roman Abramovich Revealed as $120 Million Buyer of Bacon and Freud

May 18th, 2008

Russian Billionaire Roman Abramovich via impactlab

Last week’s contemporary auctions in New York were anchored by two record-setting painting sales.  Lucian Freud’s Benefits Supervisor Sleeping sold at Christie’s for $33.6 million and Francis Bacon’s Triptych sold at Sotheby’s for $86 million.  It has just been reported that billionaire Roman Abramovich was the buyer behind both deals.

Roman Abramovich [Forbes]
Abramovich Brings Home the Bacon (and Freud) [Art Newspaper]
Abramovich Sets Record Art Transfer [Times UK]
Abramovich spends $120 Million [Bloomberg]
Dasha Zhukova to open Russian Gallery [Art Newspaper]
Abramovich Revealed as Freud and Bacon Buyer [Telegraph]
Bacon Tops Biggest Sales at Sotheby’s [ArtObserved]
Freud Sets Records at Christie’s [ArtObserved]

Francis Bacon,Triptych (1976) via Bloomberg

Abramovich, who is currently listed as #15 on Forbes’ list of billionaires with a $23.5 billion fortune, is known internationally as the owner of the UK Chelsea Football Club (not to mention his Russian hockey team and television station, among numerous other holdings) — but has not previously been known as a major art collector.

Lucian Freud, Benefits Supervisor Sleeping (1995) via WSJ

Some have speculated that his inspiration may be his current girlfriend, Dasha Zhukova, who just last week announced her desire to build a contemporary art gallery in Moscow.  With the weakened dollar, experts have seen a shift in the art market from American and European collectors toward Russian and Middle Eastern collectors.