“The work was sold for $US142,405,000 after six minutes of fierce bidding in the room and on the phone,” Christie’s said in a statement.
Hammered to an outburst of applause at the auction, the sale smashed the previous record of $US119.9 million for Edvard Munch’s iconic The Scream, achieved by rival house Sotheby’s, in May last year.
“An historic moment,” auctioneer Jussi Pylkkanen said when bidding temporarily stalled at $135 million, having opened at $86 million.
The rare triptych, executed almost 25 years after Bacon and Freud met, is the most expensive single lot offered in the entire New York November auction season.
The identity of the buyer was not immediately revealed.
The previous record for a Bacon painting was $US86 million in 2008.
Before the sale, Christie’s described the three studies work as “an icon of 20th century art” and said the auction was a “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity to acquire it.