Russian tycoon Roman Abramovich - the mystery buyer of Bacon-Freud's masterpieces

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London, May 18 : The mystery buyer of Francis Bacon's 'Triptych', which was sold for 86.3 million dollars and Lucian Freud's Benefits Supervisor Sleeping, 1995, which fetched 33.6 million dollars, is Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, according to reliable sources.

Experts say that the 120million dollars buying spree suggests that the owner of the Chelsea football club has found a new enthusiasm.

His inspiration is likely to be his model girlfriend Daria "Dasha" Zhukova, who has recently spoken of her desire to open a contemporary art gallery in Moscow.

On May 13 at a sale at New York's Rockefeller Center, Christie's sold Freud's Benefits Supervisor Sleeping, a picture of Sue Tilley stretched naked across a sofa. It fetched 33.6m dollars, the world auction record for a living artist.

"This picture is a simple and seemingly uncomposed depiction of one of the key features of Freud's art. The forceful and undeniable physical presence of people and things," Times Online quoted Christie's rep, as saying.

According to The Art Newspaper, the secret buyer was again bidding at Sotheby's sale on May 14. This time he spent 86.3million dollars on a three-panel work by Bacon, entitled Triptych. The purchase sent a record for a painting by the artist. Cristina Ruiz, editor of The Art Newspaper, said: "Abramovich is now said to be the buyer of both of these paintings and I'm very impressed by his choices. He has gone at the highest level, but these are good purchases and I think they will retain their price."

"Abramovich appears to be completely new to the market. It's very interesting because the power in the art world is shifting from European and American collectors who are selling to Russian and Middle Eastern collectors. It means the market is very resilient," she added.

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