Lucian Freud's 'Benefits Supervisor Sleeping' sells for record $33m
When the plump, naked model for one of Lucian Freud's paintings remarked that the artist "got value for money" because he "got a lot of flesh", she may not have realised how prophetic her words would come to be.
Freud's life-size portrait of Sue Tilley, a London Jobcentre supervisor, set the world record for the highest price paid in an auction for a work of art by a living artist.
At a Christie's auction in Manhattan, Benefits Supervisor Sleeping, which depicts a 20 stone, Jobcentre worker stretched over a tatty sofa, fetched $33.64m, far exceeding the previous record set in November by Jeff Koons' Hanging Heart sculpture that sold for $23.6 million.
The portrait was painted in 1995 by Freud, the 85-year-old grandson of the psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud, and is thought by some art experts to represent his best work from the 1990s.
The painting, which is part owned by Christie's, was sold by a private European collector.
The auctioneer declined to comment on the size of Christie's stake in the painting. A spokeswoman contacted during the auction also declined to name the buyer of the painting, who can decide at the end of the proceedings whether he chooses to be identified.
Suzy Jagger in New York and Dalya Alberge