Francis Bacon's 'Trotsky' triptych tipped to fetch up to $75 million at auction

LONDON, Feb 23 (Reuters) - A Francis Bacon triptych that depicts the aftermath of Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky's 1940 assassination in Mexico City is expected to fetch up to $75 million when it goes under the hammer next week.

Described by Christie's as among the iconoclastic Irish-born painter's last great paintings, "Triptych 1986-7" features then U.S. President Woodrow Wilson leaving the post-World War One Treaty of Versailles meeting in 1919 and Bacon's friend John Edwards on its other two canvases.

The British auction house's price estimate for the work, part of a March 1 sale in London of 20th and 21st century masterworks, is 35 million to 55 million pounds ($48 million - $75 million).

"Bacon lived between 1909 and 1992, almost the full length of the 20th century," Katharine Arnold, head of post-war and contemporary art at Christie's in Europe, told Reuters.

"And here he's reflecting on the passage of time, those moments that were pivotal moments in Western history in particular, but also had implications for the whole world."

Other lots in the sale include Lucian Freud's 1986-87 portrait "Girl with Closed Eyes", estimated at 10 million to 15 million pounds.

The prize item in an "Art of the Surreal" auction being held on the same evening is a surrealist self-portrait by Pablo Picasso.

The 1929 piece, called "La fenêtre ouverte" and depicting the Spanish artist and his muse Marie-Thérèse Walter, has a price estimate of 14 million to 24 million pounds.

"This is one of 37 large size Marie-Thérèse paintings, which are the most expensive Picassos in the market," said Olivier Camu, Christie's deputy chairman, Impressionist and Modern Art.

"Of those ... there are only 13 in private hands. The last one we sold, sold for $103 million last year."

($1 = 0.7352 pounds)

Reporting by Will Russell; Additional reporting by Marie-Louise Gumuchian; Writing by Marie-Louise Gumuchian and John Stonestreet

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