New York – A largely abstract Cy Twombly sold for $52.89 million at Christie’s flagship post-war and contemporary art auction in New York on Wednesday, narrowly eclipsing a Francis Bacon triptych of his lover.

The auction house said the evening sale netted a total of $448 million in a week when Christie’s and Sotheby’s are chasing combined sales of at least $1.1 billion in auctioning off hundreds of pieces of art.

Twombly’s “Leda and the Swan,” in oil, lead pencil and wax crayon on canvas was produced after the US artist had established himself in Rome and left behind the New York art world.

The subject of a retrospective in Paris last year and the strong price — narrowly beating the Bacon — underscores an artist becoming an increasing commercial force despite being far from a household name.

Sotheby’s set the Twombly auction record at $70.5 million in 2015.

Cy Twombly's "Leda and the Swan" sells for $52.89 million at Christie's flagship post-war and contemporary art auction in New York. © AFP Jewel SAMAD

© AFP Jewel SAMAD – Cy Twombly’s “Leda and the Swan” sells for $52.89 million at Christie’s flagship post-war and contemporary art auction in New York