Entertainment & Arts

Lucian Freud portrait Pregnant Girl sells for £16m

Lucian Freud's Pregnant Girl portrait Image copyright Sotheby’s
Image caption Freud's girlfriend was the subject of Pregnant Girl

A portrait by Lucian Freud has sold for £16.1m, far exceeding its estimated sale price.

Pregnant Girl was pursued by six bidders at the London auction on Wednesday, according to Sotheby's.

The portrait depicts the artist's girlfriend, Bernardine Coverley, in the early 1960s, asleep while she was expecting their daughter Bella.

The painting had been expected to fetch £7-10m.

Coverley was 16 when she first met Freud in London in 1959. It's understood she was 17 when he painted Pregnant Girl.

Bella Freud, now aged 54 and a fashion designer, was the first of the couple's two children.

She said: "It must have been a very happy time in her life, being pregnant with the man she loved and him wanting her to be there and paint her. I think he was undoubtedly the love of her life."

Oliver Barker, Sotheby's senior international specialist in contemporary art, said: "There is arguably no other portrait by Freud that is more gripping, more tender, and more laden with such emotional depth."

The record for a Freud was set in May 2015 when a life-sized nude, Benefits Supervisor Resting, was sold at auction in New York for $56.2m (£35.6m)

Lucian and Bernandine separated when their children were young. He died in 2011 at the age of 88, while Bernadine died just four days later.

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