A Francis Bacon painting of a female nude sold for £17.8 million ($34.4 million Cdn) at Sotheby's in London Wednesday night.

Bacon's 1969 Study of Nude With Figure In A Mirror was sold to a European private collector in an auction that Sotheby's described as the biggest contemporary art sale in Europe.

Three Self Portraits by Andy Warhol, a trinity of canvasses from 1986, fetched almost £11.5 million ($22.2 million Cdn), the second highest price of the evening.

Records were set for paintings by Gerhard Richter and Lucio Fontana but the Bacon sold for slightly under its lowest estimate.

Study of Nude depicts the artist's friend and model Henrietta Moraes and had been offered for auction in 1992 without selling.

The record for a work by the British artist, set in May 2007, is $52.7 million US for Bacon's 1962 painting Study From Innocent X.

New York art agent Philippe Segalot bought the Warhol Thursday evening for an unnamed client and also paid $20 million for a 1963 gold-glitter Fine di Dio painting by Argentinian painter Fontana, which had been estimated at $8 million.

Among the other record prices was Kerze (Candle), a 1983 painting by Germany's Richter which is featured on the cover of Sonic Youth's 1988 album Daydream Nation.
It sold for $14 million, more than four times its estimate.

Jeff Koons' sculpture Kiepenkerl sold for double its estimate at $6 million.

Lucian Freud's 2001 Nude After Breakfast failed to sell, but most lots did sell, despite concern about an economic downturn.

Sotheby's raised £95 million ($183.5 million Cdn) in the entire auction, double what it raised in its contemporary art auction in 2007.