Saturday, May 14, 2011

Bringing Home The Bacons

Word comes that 2 professional treasure hunters have arrived in the Thai seaside resort of Pattaya intent on investigating the strange case-as exclusively revealed on the Social Shuttle, of the missing Francis Bacon collection of paintings. Apparently they have been making discreet enquiries around town.

The rumor has been the talk of Pattaya since Bacon's lover John Edwards died in 2003

The Shuttle was an occasional drinking pal with Bacon at the legendary Colony Club in London's Soho during the 1980s.  Bacon was a friendly and unpretentious man for an artist whose paintings brought the greatest ever price for a living artist. Although he lived in comfortable circumstances, they were relatively modest compared to the eventual fortune he was to leave his lover John Edwards when he died in 1992:  approximately 30 million dollars.

In his early years Bacon survived by stealing, dodging rent collectors , working as a domestic servant and as a shop assistant.

Born in Ireland with an English mother and an Australian army officer father, Bacon was a descendant of Sir Francis Bacon and it was only in later life he experienced success and indulged in his passions-drinking, lunching and gambling.
Francis Bacon self portrait
He was also fond of 'rough trade'. Several affairs with young men ended acrimoniously. One whom he  discovered breaking into his apartment one day become his live-in lover. Eventually he was to settle down with Edwards whom he doted on.

Bacon would sell a painting  and lavish money on Edward's East End family and bought them a huge house where he occasionally stayed for weeks on end . He treated Edward's to a Rolls Royce with the number plate BOY 1.

When Edwards inherited Bacon's fortune he moved to Thailand and purchased a magnificent seaside penthouse and a country mansion . In 2003 Edwards died in Bangkok.

According to Bacon's original will all his works of art where to be given to the Hugh Lane Gallery in Dublin and it's said, most where.  But visitors to Edwards Pattaya apartment said that they observed at least half a dozen Bacon works on the walls. When Edwards died one London newspaper speculated the paintings were copies which seemed a bizarre claim when Bacon gave Edwards anything he asked for.  One tale was that Bacon had actually given the 6 paintings to Edwards but told him not to declare them for tax reasons.

Edwards took on a series of young Thai men as lovers although he had an English lover as well. As Edwards became ill from AIDS it's said that he gave his last Thai lover who he had known for a little over 2 years, the 6 Francis Bacon works to store at the young man's family home  near the Chaing Mai area. When Edwards died the young man was away visiting his family and never returned.

Several people who tried to track down the Thai man have been unsuccessful and the tale of the missing Bacon paintings has become a local legend. It's believed that somewhere in the north of Thailand the 6 paintings may be displayed on the walls of a simple farm house without the occupants realizing the true value of them.

A local interior decorator who also has showrooms in London and owns 2 Bacon paintings is said to be the only one who had met Edward's Thai lover and attempted to trace him but then got cold feet because of the implications over the provenance of the paintings.

In 2008 the Russian oligarch Roman Abrovanich paid nearly $83M for Bacon's 1974 work Triptych.
The previous record for one of his works was $53M. This year Bacon's portrait of his friend and artist Lucien Freud sold for $35M.
Lucien Freud
That puts the estimate of the value of the 6 missing Bacon's (if they exist) at a possible $330M !.