Tracey Emin's bed returns to the Tate after record sale
One of contemporary art’s most famous and controversial works is to go on display at the same London gallery where it first gained notoriety, courtesy of a 70-year-old German Count with a penchant for England and fine wine.
Tracey Emin’s My Bed, which caused outrage when it was shortlisted for the Turner Prize in 1999 and prompted record crowds to descend on Tate Britain to gaze at its stained sheets, has been loaned back to the gallery for at least 10 years by Count Christian Duerckheim, an industrialist from Cologne who has been collecting art for half a century.
The work was bought on his behalf by the art dealer and White Cube gallery owner Jay Jopling at auction last month for £2.54 million, a new record for a work by Emin, who is now 51 and has been made a CBE.
She created the unmade bed, strewn with empty vodka bottles, cigarette butts and discarded condoms, in her Waterloo council flat in 1998 in an attempt to capture her chaotic life after a bout of suicidal depression following the breakdown of a relationship. It has come to be regarded as one of the key works of the 1990s Young British Artists (YBA) movement.
In a statement released by the Tate, Count Duerckheim said: “I always admired the honesty of Tracey, but I bought My Bed because it is a metaphor for life, where troubles begin and logics die.”
The German, who made a fortune investing in biotechnology and is currently the chairman of pharmaceutical company Axiogenesis AG, has an enviable collection of international art considered to be among the most impressive in the world.
He has been described as an Anglophile, having lived in London in the 1960s, and in December gifted 34 modern drawings by German artists including Georg Baselitz, Gerhard Richter and Sigmar Polke to the British Museum for its exhibition Germany Divided.
Tracy Emin sits in front of her iconic 1998 piece (Getty)
Cheyenne Westphal, co-head of contemporary art worldwide at Sotheby’s, is one of the few people in the world to have viewed Count Duerckheim’s full collection, having gained an invitation to his house to value the contents of his wine cellar. “It was extraordinary – masterpiece after masterpiece, works that had never been seen before. It was like opening a treasure trove,” she said later.
Tate director Sir Nicholas Serota said of regaining My Bed: “I am absolutely delighted that Count Duerckheim has agreed to loan such an important work to Tate for a period of at least 10 years. We look forward to displaying the work and are most grateful to Count Duerckheim for his generosity in creating an opportunity for visitors to see a work that now has iconic status.”
It is not yet known whether the work will go on display at Tate Britain or Tate Modern, with details being announced in the autumn.
Before it was auctioned, Emin said she regarded My Bed as “iconic” and hoped that it would be donated to a museum to be viewed by the public again, having spent more than a decade in the personal collection of Charles Saatchi, who bought it in 2000 for £150,000.
She said: “Count Duerckheim has done a very generous thing. I have always felt My Bed belongs at Tate. And now it will be. I cherish the moment to install it there. I could not be happier.”
Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'music
Review: Cilla, ITV TV
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Thailand beach murders: Thai PM suggests 'attractive' female tourists cannot expect to be safe in bikinis
- 2 Scottish independence: Learn from Quebec's mistakes and beware of promises. Vote Yes.
- 3 A bottle of wine a day is not bad for you and abstaining is worse than drinking, scientist claims
- 4 Revealed after 75 years of secrecy: 'Fifi' the glamorous WW2 special agent who tested British spies' resolve
- 5 Hitler’s food taster reveals the horrors of the Wolf’s Lair
Laurie Lee's Rosie: What is it like to inspire a writer's work and be immortalised on the page?
Doctor Who series 8: Time Heist pictures revealed ahead of episode 5
The Walking Dead season 5 air date, trailer and season 4 recap
Well this Star Wars 7 leaked set photo of Adam Driver changes everything
Pharrell Williams says 'Blurred Lines' criticism is 'out of context'
Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained by Los Angeles police after being mistaken for a prostitute
Scottish independence referendum: A nation divided against itself
The political class is doing what Hitler couldn’t – destroying Britain
Scottish independence: Nationalist leader Jim Sillars threatens pro-union companies with 'day of reckoning' after independence
Portuguese academic says British are 'filthy, violent and drunk'
Russia freezes Ukraine into submission: Kiev admits country doesn't have enough fuel for winter