%VIRTUAL-SkimlinksPromo%An artwork depicting the tragic muse and lover of record-breaking artist Francis Bacon is estimated to fetch around £30 million next month - the first time such a work has come up for auction in a decade.
The almost two-metre tall canvas features George Dyer, who died of an overdose in Paris two days before the painting was displayed at Bacon's first major retrospective at the Grand Palais in 1971.
It will be sold at Christie's in London and could set a record price for a single canvas by the artist. The work, Portrait of George Dyer Talking, was last sold at Christie's New York in 2000 when it sold for £4 million - a record for Bacon at the time.
His prices have soared since then and in November a new world record was set for a Bacon artwork at auction when a triptych depicting Lucian Freud sold for £89 million.
The artist met his lover in 1963 and he became the subject of many of his most celebrated works, including the portrait to be sold on February 13 which he created in 1966.
It is described by Christie's as the most significant large-scale portrait of Dyer to be offered at auction in more than a decade.
Francis Outred, the head of post-war and contemporary art for Christie's Europe, said: "It is exciting to be able to follow this success by offering this tour-de-force portrait of George Dyer which presents a powerful portrait of arguably one of Bacon's greatest loves, painted in 1966, and one of the last full-size portraits of him to remain in private hands.
"In addition it was shown at Bacon's retrospective at the Grand Palais in Paris, adding emotional poignancy and importance."
The painting - which has been seen in the UK only once, at Marlborough Fine Art in 1967 - will be exhibited in London before the sale.
Many of Bacon's depictions of Dyer are part of museum and gallery collections.
The 10 top earning celebrities
Bacon portrait of lover up for sale
At the age of 55, critics have been insisting that her finest days were two decades behind her. Her latest album sold fewer than 1 million copies, and her recent singles have failed to make the impression they once did.
But Madonna has silenced the critics - raking in an astonishing $125 million in one year. That's $25 million more than her nearest rival. Her $305 million wold tour was the major money maker, but her fashion and perfume brands helped too.
This is Madonna's biggest-earning year of all time - surpassing her previous record in 2009 of $110 million.
The veteran director had a hit with Lincoln last year, but the bulk of his $100 earnings comes from royalties from his earlier works. It can't hurt to have the Raiders of the Lost Ark franchise and the Jurassic Park films quietly making money for you. He also makes a slice from the Universal Studios theme parks. The combination means he's up a place in the rankings from last year.
The British 'Shades of Grey' author has faced harsh criticism for her writing style, but she is living proof that sex sells (70 million copies worldwide and counting). With earnings of $95 million this year she's not only the highest-earning author of the year, she's the third-highest-earning celebrity too.
The original shock-jock is pulling in $95 million a year by being the biggest name on US radio. He also made a rumoured $15 million as a judge on America's Got Talent - which has helped push him up from seventh place on the list last year.
Simon Cowell, the second Brit on the list, is still holding fast to his earning power - despite some ratings problems in the US. The X Factor and Got Talent format are worldwide sensations - all earning a small fortune for the TV mogul and soon-to-be father who brought home $95 million in a year. It has pushed him up from tenth place in the list last year - leapfrogging the likes of James Patterson and Michael Bay.
With earnings of $91 million, America's favourite author is reaping the benefits of being both very popular and incredibly prolific. Apparently one in four of all hardback books sold in the US are written by Patterson, and he continues to add to his body of work at an incredible rate - which has helped push him up from eighth to sixth place in a year.
With earnings of $90 million, Beck's various roles as a TV and radio host, conservative political commentator, author and businessman have seen the money flooding in. His official tagline is 'The Fusion of Entertainment and Enlightenment' - so there is a small chance that the money and fame (and moving up from 11th place on the list last year) may have gone to his head.
Earnings of $82 million put the Transformers director in the upper-echelons of the big earners. His blockbuster action films haven't always been a big hit with the critics, but have pulled in the crowds, guaranteeing him big money. He took a bit of a hit this year - with his earnings almost halving from a year earlier (when he was the second-highest paid celebrity). However, Transformers 4 should have him back on top next year.
Making $80 million this year, Bruckheimer's ability to produce Hollywood hits is certainly paying off. Having a back-catalogue that features the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise doesn't hurt. However, he could do with another mega-hit soon as he's down from fourth place on the list last year when he made $35 million more.
Her earnings of $80 million would have been even more if she hadn't had to pull out of much of her tour after suffering a hip injury.
Oprah Winfrey, meanwhile, came in 13th - knocked off the top spot last year, when she was bringing in $165 million a year, and seemed unassailable.