New York - Big Apple auctioneers were tutting with disbelief tonight at a Brit tabloid's best guess naming Russian mobster Roman Abramovich as the new owner of the $143million Francis Bacon triptych entitled 'Three Studies of Lucian Fraud'.
The 1969 work was snapped up by an Upper East Side gallery acting on behalf of an 'unnamed mystery buyer' - thought to be the same Long Island tycoon who has just commissioned the world's biggest, newest, most awesome $500million ocean-going motor yacht, code-named 'Project Azzam' (to fool the natives).
Abramovich, 69, recently shelled out a reported $75million for five-sixths of the Berwind Building at 828 Fifth Avenue in the stated hopes of persuading (sic) the two remaining apartment owners to sell up to him ahead of remodelling the entire mansion into one single family home.
So he's not exactly skint after all, just suffering a little seasonal cash flow problems.
Five years ago he purchased a different Bacon triptych of Lucien Fraud for around $43million prompting much speculation that he would be adding this week's record breaking auction lots to his collection.
No such luck, of course, following an excruciatingly expensive divorce and various business losses Abramovich has had to sell up a number of assets recently to fund the Fifth Avenue property purchase, including two prime Central London houses for a total of $110 million once destined as his European love nest.