Home U.K Rare portrait expected to fetch £18k at auction after being accidentally bought...

Rare portrait expected to fetch £18k at auction after being accidentally bought for £12


A rare, limited edition print by Lucian Freud is expected to make at least 1000 times the price paid for it earlier this year when it goes under the hammer in an online auction in November.

The print, which will be up for grabs at Gildings Auctioneers’ Fine Art & Antiques auction on November 16, was previously sold to a couple from Warwickshire this spring.

The owners, who started bidding at auction as a lockdown hobby, bought two prints for less than £12, mainly because they liked the frames.

On collecting their purchase, they were also given a third print which they had not realised was part of the lot.

As this print, depicting a man’s face against a plain background, was attached to two large pieces of cardboard, the new owner took it home as he thought the cardboard would come in handy to use as an oil drip tray when fixing his motorbike.

It was only when watching Secrets of the Museum on BBC Two a few weeks later the couple realised they had acquired one of the most famous portraitists of the 20th century.

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Mr Gilding said: “I was delighted to be able to be able to tell this couple that the print they had picked up for less than the price of a takeaway pizza, was indeed the work of arguably the most celebrated figurative artist of the 20th century.

“To our knowledge, the only print from this edition that has been offered at auction so far was sold as part of the Rockefeller Collection at Christie’s New York in 2018 for $30,000.

“With a less high-profile but no less intriguing provenance, we anticipate this print to be worth £12,000 to £18,000 at auction in the current market.”

The estimate reflects the fact that the print has a crease in the paper. However, this imperfection is unlikely to deter bidders from the rare opportunity to acquire a piece of art by Lucian Freud.

Mr Gilding added: “Although £12,000 – £18,000 is a lot of money, to own a Freud original would cost you in the millions, and so a signed edition print of the artist’s work presents an unmissable opportunity for a collector to acquire a Freud print at a relatively ‘affordable’ price.

“Also, the mystery of how such a valuable work of art came to be almost given away at auction can only add to the attraction of owning it.”

Lucian Freud, born in Berlin in 1922, was the grandson of psychoanalysis founder Sigmund Freud. He moved with his family to England in 1933 to escape the rise of Nazism.

You can find more information on the auction here.

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