Critics Demand Tracey Emin’s Bed Goes to Museum

Tracey Emin, My Bed, 1998 Courtesy Christie's
Tracey Emin, My Bed, 1998 Courtesy Christie's

Art experts have called for Tracey Emin’s My Bed (1998) to remain on public display in Britain after it emerged that her dealer Jay Jopling had bought the iconic work on behalf of an anonymous collector for £2.5 million at Christie’s London on Tuesday night. The piece sold for more than twice the estimate setting a new record price for the artist whose previous record at auction had been £482,000. The consignor, Charles Saatchi, had paid £150,000 for the artwork at the turn of the century.

Emin made the piece after a breakup, it shows the artist’s unmade bed with stained sheets, cigarette butts and condoms scattered around it.

Tania Buckrell Pos, head of Arts and Management International told the Independent, “The general consensus is it is probably the most definitive piece of the YBA movement.” Adding that, “It belongs in a museum, hopefully whoever he bought it for will pass it to an institution.” According to Pos, the logical place for the piece to be housed is in the Tate, although there had been indications that it will go abroad to help promote the YBA movement. (The Tate declined to comment.)

Jopling’s gallery, White Cube, told the paper only that, “We were involved in the purchase on behalf of a client,” without going into further detail. However Francis Outred, head of contemporary art at Christie’s, suggested it may go on public display, saying it was, “Going to end up somewhere important, so watch this space for an announcement.”


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