- Sources said theft appeared to have been a highly-professional operation
- Perpetrators disabled alarm system when owner was away
- Owner of the paintings was believed to be a close friend of Bacon’s
- It is currently unclear exactly which paintings were involved in incident
Daily Mail Reporter
18:15 EST, 13 March 2016
02:32 EST, 14 March 2016
Five paintings by British artist Francis Bacon (pictured) worth an estimated £23.25m have been stolen from the Madrid home of their owner
Five paintings by British artist Francis Bacon worth an estimated £23.25m have been stolen from the Madrid home of their owner.
Sources close to the investigation said the theft appeared to have been a highly-professional operation which took place while the owner was away, with the perpetrators disabling the alarm system.
The thieves, who left no trace of their handiwork, had tracked the owner’s movements to ensure he did not return to his apartment to catch them red-handed, they said.
Spanish media quoted sources as saying the artwork, comprising portraits and landscapes, was stolen last June. It was not immediately clear why news of the theft was not made public until now.
It was also unclear exactly which paintings were involved but one contemporary art specialist told the paper they would be extremely difficult to sell.
‘It is not at all easy to sell a Francis Bacon, large or small without that getting to the ears of those who pore over such a rarified sector,’ said the expert, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Police from a specialist arts and antiques unit have opened an investigation into the heist.
Dublin-born Bacon died in Madrid in 1992 aged 82 and his expressionist-surrealist works, including the 1996 piece Study for a Portrait (above left) and the 1959-1967 painting Seated Figure (Red Cardinal) (above right), remain hugely sought after
THE LIFE OF FRANCIS BACON
Bacon (1909-1992) was born in Dublin to English parents and moved to London in 1926.
he had no formal training as an artist, he started to exhibit his work
in the 1930s and a decade later his angst-ridden paintings of twisted and
mutated forms became a sensation in the artistic community.
He died of a heart attack in Madrid in 1992.
Today, his work is among the most popular of 20th-century art at auction.
The owner of the paintings was believed to be a close friend of Bacon’s.
Dublin-born Bacon died in Madrid in 1992 aged 82 and his expressionist-surrealist works, which are often raw and emotional, remain hugely sought after.
Bacon’s death only enhanced his reputation and the 2013 sale of his 1969 work ‘Three Studies of Lucien Freud’ fetched £98m at auction, a world record at the time.
Art market information leader Artprice lists Bacon as one of 10 frontline modern artists alongside the likes of Picasso and Andy Warhol, whose works comprise 18 per cent of global sales.