Tracy Emin's My Bed sells for £2.5m - artist says it 'changed people's perceptions of art'

Charles Saatchi has made a handy profit

Click to follow
The Independent Culture

Tracy Emin’s controversial work My Bed has sold for more than £2.5 million – four times the amount paid for any of her other pieces.

The unmade bed, strewn with empty vodka bottles, cigarette butts and discarded condoms, was nominated for the Turner Prize in 1999 and has continued to divide critics and the public.

The 50-year-old artist was at Christie’s in London to watch the auction on Tuesday, reportedly grinning and hugging a friend when it was sold.

A senior member of the famous auction house hinted it could end up on public display after being bought by an anonymous bidder.

Francis Outred, head of contemporary art, told a press conference: “I think it will end up going to a very good place.

"We can't announce it but I think it is going to end up somewhere important so watch this space for an announcement."

My Bed was previously sold to Charles Saatchi in 2000 for a reported £150,000 and he announced his intention to sell it earlier this year.


It was part of the an auction of post-war and contemporary art, where sales totalled almost £100 million, including Francis Bacon's Study For Head Of Lucian Freud, which sold for £11.5 million.

The previous best sale price for a piece of Emin's work was £481,000, Mr Outred said.

Emin, who was made a CBE in the 2012 New Years Honours, said My Bed was made in her council flat in Waterloo and 1998.

A seminal piece in the Young British Artists movement, including Damien Hirst, it made her one of Britain’s most famous living artists.

Speaking at Christie's last week ahead of the sale, she said she still stands by her work which "changed people's perceptions of art".

Jussi Pylkkanen, the auctioneer and president of Christie's Europe, said: "People wondered why she was so engaged in the process of selling that object but for her that was her biography, that was a statement, that was a self portrait.

"It is quite unusual actually to have an artist so involved in their own works that for them it is a sort of step into the next stage of their lives."

Additional reporting by PA