LONDON (Reuters) - A self-portrait of a badly bruised Lucian Freud will go under the hammer at Sotheby's in London next month and is expected to fetch 3-4 million pounds ($4.9 million), the auctioneer announced on Tuesday. The picture of Freud aged nearly 60 with a blackened left eye has never been recorded in published literature on the artist and has remained in the same private collection since it was executed more than 30 years ago.
The swollen eye was the result of an altercation between the artist and a taxi drive during which Freud was punched in the face.
"Ignoring the pain, inconvenience and potential embarrassment, Freud instead used the circumstance as the inspiration to create an important new work," Sotheby's said.
The auction record for a work by Freud, 87, is $33.6 million set in 2008.
The work will be part of the London evening sale of contemporary art on February 10 at which the auctioneer will be hoping the strong recovery in art market values continues.
The auction is expected to raise over 32 million pounds and will also feature works by Peter Doig, Lucio Fontana and Andy Warhol.
Rival auction house Christie's holds its equivalent sale the following evening and expects to fetch 26.3-38.3 million pounds overall. Their top lot is expected to be "Relief Eponge or (Gold sponge relief RE47II)" by Yves Klein which is estimated at 5-7 million pounds.
Reporting by Mike Collett-White