Lucian Freud nude sets record auction price for work by living artist

New York  - A life-sized nude by the British painter Lucian Freud sold for 33.6 million dollars, the highest price ever paid at auction for the work of a living artist.

Benefits Supervisor Sleeping sold Tuesday night after a bidding war to an anonymous buyer calling in by telephone at the sale by Christie's auction house in New York.

The 1995 painting of an obese woman napping on a ragged couch by the grandson of the father of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud, beat out the previous record of 23.6 million dollars paid in November for American artist Jeff Koons' sculpture Hanging Heart.

Christie's had expected Benefits Supervisor Sleeping to sell for 25 million to 35 million dollars. The work's hammer price, its cost before commissions are added, was 30 million dollars.

The painting is nicknamed Big Sue after its subject, London civil servant Sue Tilley, now 51, who received 20 pounds (now worth 39 dollars) a day for her side job of posing in the buff.

Freud, 85, is considered one of the world's most important contemporary artists. He was born in 1922 in Berlin and fled the Nazi regime with his family in 1933 to Britain. (dpa)