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Lucian Freud. Benefits Supervisor Sleeping.
1995. Oil on canvas, 151.3 219 cm. Private collection, Europe.
     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.
     Last night, 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.
     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. Referring to the woman Freud affectionately called "Big Sue", he has said that he was "very aware of all kinds of spectacular things to do with her size, like amazing craters and things one's never seen before".
     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. 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.

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