- ‘Pregnant Girl’ depicts Bernadine Coverley carrying the couple’s first child
- Painted in 1961, the naked portrait of 17-year-old sold for twice its estimate
- Shows Coverley asleep while pregnant with Bella, now a fashion designer
- Went under the hammer at Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Auction in London
- Tense bidding war as it was the first time painting was offered publicly
A fierce bidding war saw a naked portrait by Lucian Freud of his pregnant teenage lover sell for more than twice its estimate at auction – fetching an astonishing £16million.Pregnant Girl, regarded as one of Freud’s most famous and important paintings, shows Bernadine Coverley carrying the couple’s first child while asleep.The painting, completed in 1961, was a radical departure from the artist’s realist style of the 1950s and has been displayed at all of his important exhibitions.
Pregnant Girl depicts Lucian Freud’s 17-year-old lover Bernadine Coverley, carrying the couple’s first child, Bella. The portrait went under the hammer this week and sold for an astonishing £16m
Bella (pictured left with photographer Mario Testino) is now an internationally-acclaimed fashion designer. Lucian Freud (right) painted the picture in 1961 and it went on to be regarded as one of his most famous and important pieces of art
Freud and Coverley never married, nor did they live together, but they had two daughters and a lifelong bond.In Pregnant Girl, the 17-year-old mother-to-be is carrying their first daughter, Bella, who is now an internationally-acclaimed fashion designer.
The painting was offered publicly for the first time on Wednesday evening at Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Auction in London.It had an estimate of £7 to £10 million and after a tense bidding war which went on for almost ten minutes between six parties, auctioneer Oliver Barker hammered down at £14.2 million.With premiums and taxes, the final price paid by the anonymous bidder was £16,053,000 – the fourth highest price paid for a Freud at auction.Portrait of passion depicting Lucian Freud’s Pregnant Girl
Freud was 39 at the time he met Coverley – who was raised a Catholic and attended a convent from the age of four – in 1959 in London.
They would have another daughter, Esther, but the couple’s relationship was brief and Coverley left England with her two small children to start a new life in Morocco.
Despite splitting, they remained in touch and their relationship marked a new approach to painting from Freud.
They died just four days of each other in July 2011.
Daughter Bella said: ‘It must have been a very happy time in her life, being pregnant with the man she loved and him wanting her to be there and paint her.
‘I think he was undoubtedly the love of her life.’
Sotheby’s previously described Pregnant Girl as ‘beautiful, sensuous, and full of emotive depth’, adding it is an ‘astonishing and defining image’ in Freud’s body of work.
A notorious womaniser, some people have claimed Freud fathered as many as 40 children, including three by three separate women in the same year. He formally acknowledged 14.
The most expensive Freud painting was ‘Benefits Supervisor Resting’, which was sold by Christie’s for £35.8 million in 2015.
- London auctions signal the end of boom years for post-war
- Freud’s ‘pregnant girl’ sells for £16.1m
- Portrait of local girl makes £16 million at Sotheby’s
Lucian Freud & The Procurer
Freud did a painting of David Litvinoff wiki
Keith Richards wrote of Litvinoff that he “was on the borders of art and villainy, a friend of the Kray brothers, the East End gangsters.” The novelist Derek Raymond said, “Used to know Litvinoff’s half-brother David quite well. He managed to kill himself. Which was probably just before he would have been murdered.”
In Notorious, John Pearson writes that Litvinoff was homosexual and that one function that he performed for Ronnie Kray, who was also homosexual, was to procure boys for sexual services for Ronnie’s friends. Such activities also provided useful material for blackmail purposes. Art dealer Christopher Gibbs said “He didn’t have an affair with Ronnie Kray, but he used to pick up boys with him sometimes. I remember being flagged down, in Sloane Street, aged 18 or thereabouts [c. 1956], by this car with Litvinoff in it and these frightfully sinister-looking people. One of them was Kray.”
Through Ronnie Kray, Litvinoff met Francis Bacon and Lucian Freud who were friends and used to gamble at Esmeralda’s Barn, the gambling club in which the Krays had a stake. According to Christopher Gibbs, the man in Freud’s painting Man in a Headscarf (originally The Procurer) (1954) was Litvinoff before he was slashed across the face in an attack (sometime before 1968) by an unknown assailant. The Krays were happy to take the credit for the attack as it bolstered their reputation. Pearson claims that Freud gave the work its original name in reference to Litvinoff’s function. The painting sold for £1,156,500 at Christie’s in 1999. At one time, it had been thought to be a self-portrait.
In 1967 Litvinoff was living at The Pheasantry.
- Llanddewi Brefi, The Krays, LSD, Litvinoff & Tara.
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Sometime in 1968, Litvinoff rented Cefn Bedd cottage in Llanddewi Brefi. A stream of notable 60s figures seem to have stayed at the cottage including Eric Clapton, the artist Martin Sharp who designed the album covers for Cream and Nigel Waymouth who was one of the owners of boutique Granny Takes a Trip. There was speculation that a bearded man with long hair and an American accent named Gerry was actually Bob Dylan, but Christopher Gibbs has said that this was really Litvinoff’s “sidekick”, Gerry Goldstein. Local legend also has it that the Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix and even Yoko Ono visited and that Litvinoff distributed signed Stones LPs. One local saw an invitation to Hendrix’s funeral on the cottage mantlepiece.
Litvinoff left Llanddewi Brefi around the end of 1969 after being tipped-off about possible police interest in the cottage, returning to London and then going to Australia. On his return he stayed with Christopher Gibbs. In 1977, Operation Julie busted a large LSD manufacturing and distribution network operating partly from Llanddewi Brefi. Although this network is believed to have only been operating from 1969, and there is no evidence of any involvement by Litvinoff, media reports have linked it with his time in Llanddewi Brefi and the music industry figures that he brought to the village.
From 1972 until his death in April 1975 from an overdose of sleeping pills, Litvinoff lived at Davington Priory, Faversham, Kent, (current home of Bob Geldof) which was then owned by the art dealer Christopher Gibbs.
Above is David Litvinoff. Below Freud’s The Procurer & the book Jumping Jack Flash