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Francis Bacon drug scene painting nabs record $15 million

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New York (dpa) - A painting by the 20th century British painter Francis Bacon fetched 15 million dollars at Sotheby's art auction house, the highest price ever paid for the artist's work.

The image, "Version No. 2 of Lying Figure With Hypodermic Syringe," depicts a woman in his artist's circle shooting up drugs. The woman, a frequent subject of his paintings, later became a heroin addict, Bloomberg financial news service reported Wednesday.

The painting by Bacon (1909-1992) was bought Tuesday evening by an anonymous bidder, from the collection of Belgian furniture designer Roger Vanthournot, who died last year.

Sotheby's auction of post-World War II and contemporary artists is to continue later Wednesday. On Tuesday, pricey paintings by Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein failed to sell.

Last week, Christie's and Sotheby's in New York sold a record 847.3 million dollars of impressionist and modern artworks, including famous Klimts and Picassos.

"Contemporary art is an incredibly sexy thing to be buying right now," New York art adviser Cristin Tierney was quoted as saying. "People talk about hedge-fund money, and part of it is a desire to conquer yet another market. But this is a market that's more social, and social on an intellectual level."

Copyright 2006 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH

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