Thursday, November 14, 2013

exclusive : The Francis Bacon Mystery

As Francis Bacon's 1969 triptych of Lucien Freud sells for $142.4m (£89.6m) in New York- the greatest price ever received for a work of art- the mystery still remains of the missing Bacon paintings in Thailand.
The Shuttle revealed the tale in 2010 and it can be read here.

When Francis Bacon died in 1992 he left his estate valued at around £11m to his lover John Edwards whom Bacon met when he discovered Edwards burgling his London mews house. His paintings were bequeathed to the Hugh Lane Gallery in Dublin.
Bacon with John Edwards
Edwards moved to the Thai seaside resort of Pattaya where he purchased a house and a lavish penthouse. Both were decorated with Bacon paintings that Edwards had held back from Bacon's estate and despite Edwards telling friends they were 'copies' ( and the Shuttle viewed 2 at Edwards' penthouse at a dinner party one night) an expert flown in by a local French decorator and Bacon enthusiast who wished to purchase one, concluded they were genuine.                
The French decorator however got cold feet and didn't purchase the painting.

As rumours of the fortune on Edward's walls spread throughout Thailand and local Pattaya- a town with it's fair share of dodgy characters, Edwards became nervous and instructed his then Thai lover to transport the 6 paintings to the Thai lover's family house in Northern Thailand.

Edwards died from cancer in 2006 and the trail ended there. The Thai lover was never located and the paintings had vanished into the ether.
Now the Shuttle hears though the Pattaya ex-pat grapevine that a US art collector and billionaire has financed another expedition to attempt to find the missing Bacons.
Somewhere in the Chaing Mai area, a simple Thai house exists and on the walls could be, at today's values, possibly one billion dollars of Francis Bacon masterpieces !.

The Colony Room, Bacon & Kit Lambert
By co-incidence, the Shuttle was a sometime drinking pal with Francis Bacon at the afternoon Soho drinking club The Colony. Once Bacon and the late rock manager Kit Lambert offered to assist the Shuttle in finding a cab after we became a bit the worse for wear. They made a valiant effort assisting us down the stairs but unable to find a taxi deposited the Shuttle in a nearby doorway, collecting our still prone body several hours later after repairing back to the club for a further drinking session.