Couple discover sketch they planned to use as an oil drip-tray is a Lucian Freud print worth £18,000

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Couple discover cardboard sketch they planned to use as an oil drip-tray for a motorbike is actually a Lucian Freud print worth £18,000

  • A couple bought a rare Lucian Freud print featuring David Dawson for just £12
  • Not realising its value, the pair planned to use the Freud original as oil drip tray
  • The print will go up for sale on November 16 and is estimated to fetch £18,000


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A couple who accidentally bought a Lucian Freud print wanted to use it as an oil drip tray before realising it was worth £18,000.

The image of a man’s face on a plain background came in a job lot with two framed prints costing just £12. 

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Not realising its value, the unnamed pair planned to use the Freud as a drip tray when carrying out motorcycle repairs.

But a few months later they saw the model for the print when BBC’s Secrets of the Museum visited Gildings Auctioneers in Market Harborough, Leicestershire.

A couple bought a rare Lucian Freud print for just £12 and not realising its value, planned to use it as an oil drip tray - before later discovering it was worth £18,000. Pictured: The Dawson print

A couple bought a rare Lucian Freud print for just £12 and not realising its value, planned to use it as an oil drip tray – before later discovering it was worth £18,000. Pictured: The Dawson print

The auctioneers confirmed the couple’s lucky purchase was one of 46 prints featuring David Dawson.

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Will Gilding, director and 20th century art specialist, said: ‘I was delighted to be able to tell this couple that the print they had picked up for less than the price of a takeaway pizza, was indeed the work of arguably the most celebrated figurative artist of the 20th century.’

The print, which has a crease in the paper, will go up for sale on November 16 and is estimated to fetch £18,000.

The imperfection is unlikely to deter people from an opportunity to buy a piece of art by Freud, whose oil paintings have fetched more than £22million at auction.

The Freud print, which is one of 46 prints featuring David Dawson - Freud's longest-standing assistant - and will go up for sale on November 16

The Freud print, which is one of 46 prints featuring David Dawson – Freud’s longest-standing assistant – and will go up for sale on November 16

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Gilding added: ‘With a less high-profile but no less intriguing provenance, we anticipate this print to be worth £12,000 to £18,000 at auction.

‘The mystery of how such a valuable work of art came to be almost given away at auction can only add to the attraction of owning it.’

He said one of the 46 prints seemed to have been previously sold in New York three years ago for $30,000.  

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