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Freud self-portrait sold for £2.8m

A self-portrait of Lucian Freud nursing a black eye after a punch-up with a taxi driver sold for more than £2.8 million when it went under the hammer.

Sotheby's described the rediscovered oil on canvas Self-Portrait With A Black Eye, circa 1978, as "the artist's most important self-depiction ever to appear at auction".

The auctioneer revealed the painting sold for £2,841,250.

This was under the estimate of £3 million to £4 million.

In the picture, Freud, aged almost 60 at the time, is shown sporting a swollen left eye, as the result of a row between the artist and a taxi driver, during which Freud was struck in the face.

Suffering for his art, Freud was said to have retreated to his studio rather than seek treatment - using his crumpled, swollen features as the inspiration for the important new work.

The painting was included in Sotheby's London Evening Sale of Contemporary Art last night.

The portrait, which had not been displayed before in public, was the star lot in a group of works by Freud which have been in a private European collection.

Sotheby's said it had never been recorded in the published literature on Freud, having remained in the same collection for more than 30 years.

The artist, now 87, previously discussed his habit of getting into scrapes, saying: "I used to have a lot of fights.

"It wasn't because I liked fighting, it was really just that people said things to me to which I felt the only reply was to hit them."

Other artists who have famously recorded their injuries include Vincent Van Gogh, who painted his Self-Portrait With Bandaged Ear.

The sale price includes the buyer's premium.