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  • Francis Bacon's 'Study of a Pope 1' is expected to be one of the stars of Sotheby's contempoary art sale in London next month. (Photo: Sotheby's)

    Francis Bacon’s ‘Study of a Pope 1’ is expected to be one of the stars of Sotheby’s contempoary art sale in London next month. (Photo: Sotheby’s)

    Francis Bacon and Andy Warhol are expected to be the stars of the latest auction of contemporary art in London, according to Sotheby’s, which will stage the sale, conservatively estimated to yield $328.9 million.

    Works by Keith Haring, Joseph Beuys, Tim Noble and Sue Webster will also be included in the July 1,2 auction.

    The gavel is expected to fall on “the most valuable sale of its kind ever held in London,” the auction house said in a statement.

    Indeed, sales of contemporary art have skyrocketed over the past several months as high-rolling investors from Asia and hedge fund moguls compete for well-known works.

    A February auction of Impressionist, Modern and Surrealist Art reached £186.44 million, or about $289 million, the previous high total for any auction ever held in London.

    The sale was led by a five works by Claude Monet, Matisse’s exquisite portrait “Odalisque au fauteuil noir” and Seurat’s “Étude pour une baignade, Asnières.”

    The latest sale will feature Bacon’s “Study for a Pope I,” with an estimated auction price of $35 million to $48 million. The sale will also include two of Bacon’s recently rediscovered self-portraits.

    Bacon painted “Study for a Pope” in 1961, after being inspired by 17th-century Spanish artist Diego Velázquez, who painted “Portrait of Innocent X.”

    The work last sold at auction in 2005 for $10 million, a record for the artist.

    Warhol’s fascination with the U.S. Dollar was the focus of more than 21 paintings. For the first time, dollar-themed works will go on sale that, previously, had been held in private collections, Sotheby’s said.

    The star of the Warhol lot is “One Dollar Bill (Silver Certificate)” painted by the pop-art artist in 1962. It’s the work one in the series that he painted entirely by hand. Other works were silk-screened.

    Andy Warhol painting 'One Dollar Bill (Silver Certificate) is generating a lot of interest in the upcoming auction. (Photo: Sotheby's)

    Andy Warhol painting ‘One Dollar Bill (Silver Certificate) is generating a lot of interest in the upcoming auction. (Photo: Sotheby’s)

    Sotheby’s has placed a pre-sale estimate on the work of $18 million to $25 million.

    “The dollar is more than just an American currency, it’s a symbol of so many things – aspiration, wealth, glamor – and I think (Warhol) was brilliant at pinpointing a trigger which everyone can draw to,” Sotheby’s Contemporary Art specialist James Sevier told Reuters.

    Warhol focused his work on $1 and $2 bills, rather than the $50 or $100 bill “because it was about accessibility, like the Campbell’s Soup Cans,” referring to Warhol’s most famous series.

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