The painting has remained in the same private collection for three decades
Lucian Freud's Self-Portrait With A Black Eye has sold for £2,841,250 at Sotheby's in London.
The estimate for the work, which shows the artist with a swollen eye following a punch-up with a taxi driver, was £3m to £4m.
Sotheby's said the rediscovered 1978 work was his "most important self-depiction ever to appear at auction".
The top lot at the London Evening Sale of Contemporary Art was Willem De Kooning's Untitled XIV, fetching £4m.
Self-Portrait With A Black Eye, which has never been displayed in public before, has remained in the same private collection for more than 30 years.
Freud, now 87, was in his late 50s when he painted the work.
He once said that he "used to have a lot of fights".
"It wasn't because I liked fighting, it was really just that people said things to me to which I felt the only reply was to hit them."
Sotheby's sale, which also included Freud's 1981 oil on canvas Guy and Speck and his Portrait of Christian Berard, fetched a total of £54.1m.
Yves Klein's fire painting F 88 sold for £3.3m.