Rare paintings by Lucian Freud head to auction

With London’s auction season fast upon us, art enthusiasts are gearing up for the opportunity to view three works by Lucian Freud, one of which is tipped to fetch £10 million.

‘Pregnant Girl’ (1960-61), Freud’s portrait of his teenage lover Bernadine Coverley while she was pregnant with their daughter Bella goes on sale at Sotheby’s on 10 February 2016. Privately owned, it will be the first time the painting is sold at auction and carries an estimated price of £7-10 million.

At Christie’s, two portraits of Freud’s daughters, Esther and Isobel, will go under the hammer on 11 February 2016. Christie’s chairman Francis Outred has said the post-war and contemporary art evening sale will provide a rare opportunity for the public to view the portraits together outside of Freud’s major retrospectives.

Both ‘Head of Esther’ (1983) and ‘Head of Ib’ (1983-84) are predicted to reach sale prices of £2.5-3.5 million. Esther was born to Bernadine in 1963 while Freud’s mistress Suzy Boyt gave him Isobel in 1961.

Freud was married twice and fathered 14 children with six different women. Following his death in 2011, Freud’s offspring fought bitterly over his £96 million fortune when it was discovered their father had left four of his children out of his will. In 2014, one of Freud’s sons challenged the validity of the will in the High Court but it was upheld by Judge Richard Spearman QC.

Despite the healthy sale price estimates for Freud’s works, not all forecasts are sunny in the lead up to auction season. A report by the University of Luxembourg School of Finance warns the international art market bubble risks bursting after several years of rapid overheating.

They point to soaring art prices in the ‘Impressionist and Modern’ and ‘Post-War and Contemporary’ categories in support of their predictions. Unmoved by the report’s findings, some art industry insiders suggest the market is too difficult to interpret using academic detection methods.

Prepare yourself for auction season with our helpful art lawyer’s guide to buying art.

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