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The BBC's Nick Higham
"Sotheby's are extremely embarrassed about it"
 real 28k

Thursday, 27 April, 2000, 16:13 GMT 17:13 UK
Porters destroy Freud masterpiece
Sotheby's
Sotheby's: "An extremely unfortunate situation"
Bungling porters at auction house Sotheby's put a painting by Lucian Freud worth 100,000 in a crusher because they thought it was rubbish.

The painting was delivered to the auctioneers in Bond Street, London, but the porters believed the protective case it was in was an empty box and placed it in a refuse crusher.

portrait
A self portrait of Lucian Freud entitled Reflection
Freud, 77, is famed for his portraits, with his nudes being among his most celebrated paintings. Model Jerry Hall is among those who have posed naked for the artist.

The error was eventually discovered when the work failed to arrive at the auction house. But security cameras captured the fate of the package.

A spokesman for Sotheby's confirmed that the painting had been destroyed.

3.5m

"It's an extremely unfortunate situation and we have taken immediate steps to prevent it happening again," he said.

He refused to comment on the fate of the porters but said they had not been sacked.

"It was a study rather than a complete painting and was worth around 100,000," the spokesman added.

He was unable to say when the picture, for which no title has been disclosed, was painted.

Other works by Freud have fetched as much as 3.5m, while the 2.8m paid for his Naked Portrait With Reflections set a record as the highest price for a contemporary work sold in Europe.

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