Costliest Painting Ever: Who Brought Home the Bacon?

By Elara Mosquera

Jan 16, 2014 3:01pm

Elaine Pascal Wynn is not just the billionaire business-savvy ex-wife of casino magnate Steve Wynn–she is reportedly the owner of “Three Studies of Lucian Freud”  by Francis Bacon, the most expensive piece of art ever auctioned, bringing in $142.4 million in November.


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This 1969 painting by Bacon set a world record for the most expensive artwork ever sold at auction when it sold Tuesday evening Nov. 12, 2013 for $142.4 million. Credit: AP Photo

Until now, the identity of a specific buyer for this record-shattering purchase during a riveting ten-minute sale last fall has been closely guarded from the public. Christie’s auction house said in a Nov. 12, 2013 statement that the triptych was bought by Acquavella LLC, but anonymous sources from the art world told the New York Times that the rightful owner is Wynn.

Neither Acquavella nor Elaine Wynn returned calls seeking comment on the report.

This is a huge sum of money for some, but for Elaine Pascal Wynn, who has an estimated net worth of $1.9 billion as of September 2013 according to Forbes, it’s but a fraction of her total fortune.

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Elaine Wynn attends the Los Angeles Confidential Magazine May/June issue celebration at Palihouse, May 23, 2013 in West Hollywood, Calif. Credit:Jason LaVeris/Getty Images

Most of Wynn’s net worth is derived from Wynn Resorts, a global casino empire she co-founded along with ex-husband Steve Wynn. The pair married in 1963, divorced in 1986, remarried in 1991 and divorced for a second time in 2010, but by all accounts ended their relationship benevolently with Ms. Wynn remaining on the board of Wynn Resorts. Wynn Resorts include Vegas hotels and casinos the Mirage, Bellagio, Golden Nugget, Treasure Island, Wynn, and Encore.

During their time together, the Wynns built a huge art collection, with many of the works displayed at their luxury resorts.

Prior to the auctioning of Francis Bacon’s triptych, New York Financier Leon Black’s purchase of nearly $120 million of Edvard Munch’s “The Scream” two years ago held the world record for largest sum paid for a piece of art.

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The triptych is on loan and can be seen at the Portland Art Museum in Oregon. Director of PR for the museum, Beth Heinrich, when asked by ABC News who loaned the painting, said: “The lender asked that the loan be anonymous. We are grateful for their generosity in allowing us to present this important work to our audiences.”

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