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I once met Francis Bacon

Not the essayist and improbable author of Shakespeare's plays, but the artist who yesterday broke the world record for highest sum ever achieved by an artist in auction.$142.2 million.

It must have been in the early 1980s, I had been viewing a book sale at Christies South Kensington ('CSK') in the days when they still had large lots of books in tea-chests and you would find the legendary Roger Elliott ('2 L's, 2 T's') and the writer /bouquiniste Alex Trocchi ploughing through them. I bumped into an old friend and he told me he was going to look at, and possibly buy, some precious stones at a sort of geology shop just off the King's Road. We made our way to his car through Reece Mews a cobbled street opposite the mighty auction rooms. Half way along we were hailed by an oldish but very lively man in what appeared to be a rubber mac, surmounted by a pleasing slightly waxy face - it was none other than the artist Francis Bacon who appeared to have lunched well and was on his way to his studio. We chatted for a moment and he asked us where we were going. We told him that we were off to buy some precious stones. Possibly he was about to invite us into his studio...however he replied 'So you're going abroad are you?' That was it. A slightly enigmatic remark. It seemed curious but it could be that, like Graham Greene, he took valuables with him when he went abroad to exchange or give as gifts - something practiced only by those with very long suits of cash.

Our colleague Martin Stone, guitar musician and book scout, met him a couple of times in Paris when he was working for Shakespeare & Co. He dined with him at the smart restaurant, next to the Whitman bookshop,  called La Bucherie. Martin reports that he was very good company- erudite, worldly and witty. Later at Reece Mews someone

made a fortune clearing a skip (dumpster) placed ouside  full of bits of half finished canvas, palettes and sketches..

See this Fortune article explaining why his tryptych of Lucian Freud made so much. It's basically about the rich getting richer.

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3 thoughts on “I once met Francis Bacon

  1. Anonymous

    Bacon was a fried of Malcolm McLaren — that's where he probably got the rubber mac.
    I met them both and will send in a Once met posting. Be warned! D Diamond

    Reply
  2. Edwin Moore

    Oh the joys of skips. George MacDonald Fraser was walking past a skip in Albion St in Glasgow (think it was after he was at the Herald) when he noticed artwork – he stopped and looked and it was a Bud Neill cartoon. It started to rain. He saw several cartoons, then more. He began grabbing them and called on passers by to help. The artwork ended up in an archive thank goodness.

    Reply

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