Artist Tracey Emin was in the room to see her controversial creation My Bed shatter the record for one of her artworks at auction when it was sold for £2.54m (€3.17m).
The 1999 Turner prize nomination, which features an unmade bed and a littered floor including empty vodka bottles, cigarette butts and discarded condoms, quadrupled the previous highest amount paid for a piece by the 50-year-old Margate artist when it was sold at Christie’s in central London.
A senior member of the auction house hinted it could end up on public display after being snapped up by an anonymous bidder.
Francis Outred, head of post-war contemporary art at Christie’s, told a press conference after the sale: “I think it will end up going to a very good place.
“We can’t announce it but I think it is going to end up somewhere important so watch this space for an announcement.”
Emin, 50, was later said to be delighted at the sale of one of the key works of the 1990s Young British Artist (YBA) movement. She was seen to grin and hug a friend when Lot 19 was sold, before leaving a short time later.
My Bed was part of the Post War and Contemporary Art Evening Auction whose sales totalled almost £100m (€1235m), including Francis Bacon’s Study For Head Of Lucian Freud, which sold for £11.5m (€14.3m) including buyer’s premium.
The previous best sale price for a piece of Emin’s work was £481,000 (€601,000), Mr Outred said.
Millionaire collector Charles Saatchi, who sold My Bed, made a more than 14-fold profit on a piece he paid £150,000 for in 2000.
Emin, 50, first made an impression on the wider public outside the art world in 1997 with a drunken appearance on a television discussion show about the Turner Prize which ended with her pulling her microphone off and telling the audience: “I’ve had a really good night out.”
Two years later, she was shortlisted for the prize and exhibited My Bed at the Tate Gallery.
It divided the critics but began the process of making her one of Britain’s most famous living artists.
Speaking at Christie’s in central London last week ahead of the sale, she said she still stands by her work which “changed people’s perceptions of art”.