Tracey Emin Value: Top Prices Paid at Auction

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written by MyArtBroker,
Date of publication4 Feb 2021
Last updated24 Nov 2023
I've Got it All by Tracey EminI've Got it All © Tracey Emin 2000
Jasper Tordoff

Jasper Tordoff, Specialist[email protected]

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Tracey Emin

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Still achieving record prices today, Tracey Emin was one of the stars of the Young British Artists movement in the 1990s. The average value of Tracey Emin's artwork has experienced a 31% growth over the last 5 years, with the typical price paid for Tracey Emin prints now reaching £3,514.

Her original paintings and installation works can sell for millions when it goes under the hammer, with even smaller-scale Emin prints having realised up to US$46,000 at auction. The highest price ever paid for a Tracey Emin artwork was achieved in July 2014, when Emin's career-defining installation work, In My Bed, sold for £2.5m at Christie’s in London.

With her artistic practice spanning installations, paintings, textiles, neon and drawings, this article explores the most expensive Tracey Emin pieces sold at auction to date.

£2.5M for My Bed

Emin's most expensive artwork at auction, My Bed, exposes the artist's innermost emotions and profound grief following a breakup. In 1998, she experienced a sort of nervous breakdown within the confines of her small apartment, remaining bedridden for four days. As she surveyed the chaos that surrounded her during this period, she had an epiphany that her bedroom itself could serve as an installation piece, a realisation she described as ”absolutely brilliant.’’

Raw and unapologetic, My Bed stirred significant controversy when it was shortlisted for the Turner Prize in 1999. A year later, the artwork found a new home with art collector and patron Charles Saatchi. Subsequently, Saatchi placed the work on auction at Christie's in London on July 1, 2014, where it fetched an astonishing £2.5 million—more than double its high estimate—setting a new auction record for Emin.

2.3M for Like A Cloud Of Blood

Like A Cloud Of Blood by Tracey EminLike A Cloud Of Blood © Tracey Emin, 2022

Achieving a remarkable price of £2.3 million at Christie's 20th/21st Century Evening Auction in October 2022, Emin's Like A Cloud Of Blood (2022) soared well above double its estimated value. While it fell just shy of matching the price realised for her most iconic work, My Bed (1998), this painting's sale stands as a noteworthy milestone in the artist's career.

The groundbreaking nature of this sale is entirely expected, given Emin's prominent role in the art world throughout 2022. Her introduction of an innovative and charitable initiative involving the conversion of an old bathhouse into studio spaces for an artist residency program, appropriately named "TKE Studios’’ after her initials, has garnered significant attention. Emin made it known that the proceeds from this sale would be allocated to support the establishment of these creative spaces and studios for artists, further solidifying her commitment to nurturing artistic talent.

£1.4M for I told you don’t try to find me

I told you don’t try to find me by Tracey Emin - Christie's 2023Image © Christie's / I told you don’t try to find me © Tracey Emin 2007

I told you don't try to find me (2007) stands as a masterpiece that holds a pivotal role in Emin's artistic odyssey. Created during the year when Emin represented Britain at the prestigious Venice Biennale, this artwork represents a significant milestone in her exploration of large-scale canvas art. Emin's return to painting took on a profound commitment following her battle with cancer in 2020.

In these recent creations, her poignant calligraphic prose seamlessly intertwines with the depiction of a reclining, unapologetic yet fragile woman—a portrayal that exudes confession rather than vulnerability. Emin's paintings have been commanding substantial prices in the art market, exemplified by the sale of I told you don't try to find me at Christie's in February 2023, where it achieved £1.4 million. This achievement is particularly noteworthy in the context of the challenging economic climate that 2023 presented.

£722,500 for Mad Tracey From Margate, Everyone's Been There

Mad Tracey From Margate, Everyone’s Been There by Tracey EminMad Tracey From Margate, Everyone’s Been There © Tracey Emin 1997

“I have always treated my blanket-making more like a painting in terms of building up layers and textures,” Emin said of her textile artworks. “I have never called them quilts. I have always called them blankets. They were most definitely blankets at the beginning because they were made with the intention of going on a bed.” When she sold her first blanket artwork Hotel International in 1994, Emin went to bed and “cried at the idea of [the work] going away”.

Mad Tracey From Margate. Everyone’s Been There, created in 1997, stitches together memories of the artist’s childhood growing up in the coastal town of Margate (which she writes more about in her memoir, Strangeland, published in 2005). The heartfelt early work was offered at Christie’s Post-War & Contemporary Art Evening Sale in London on 16 October 2014, where it sold for £722,500.

£722,500 for Exorcism Of The Last Painting I Ever Made

Exorcism Of The Last Painting I Ever Made by Tracey EminExorcism Of The Last Painting I Ever Made © Tracey Emin 1996

A ground-breaking conceptual piece, Exorcism Of The Last Painting I Ever Made was the result of a three-week performance at Stockholm’s Galleri Andreas Brändström in 1996. Working nude under the observation of gallery visitors, Emin completed 12 canvases, seven body paintings and 79 works on paper. She thought she would burn the lot in a ceremonial pyre at the end of the show but ultimately changed her mind.

Exorcism of the Last Painting – which included everything in the exhibition, from Emin’s art to the music CDs she worked to – was offered at Christie’s in London on 11 February 2005, where it sold for £722,500.

£655,203 for You Are There Now

($819,000)

You Are There Now by Tracey EminImage © Sotheby's / You Are There Now © Tracey Emin 2017

Authenticity and raw emotion are the hallmarks of Tracey Emin's works, and these are clearly evoked in her 2017 You Are There Now. This painting runs the gamut of themes ranging from love and affection to anguish and sorrow. "That thing that's lost, where has it gone?" Emin asks, as she explains her creative process behind painting, "I'm looking for it in the pictures; I'm looking for it in the paintbrush."

You Are There Now realised £655,203 at The Now Evening Auction in Sotheby's, New York, far outperforming its presale estimates of $240,001-320,001.

£481,874 for To Meet My Past

To Meet My Past by Tracey EminTo Meet My Past © Tracey Emin 2002

Created four years after My Bed (no. 1 on this list), To Meet My Past was Emin’s attempt to reconcile with some embarrassing, personal moments – such as “I cannot believe I was afraid of ghosts, Tracey Emin 1969-1974”, stitched onto the flat sheet or “Weird sex”, appliquéd onto the headboard. The installation was quickly snapped up after it was created in 2002. Over a decade later, it was offered at Christie’s in London on 17 October 2013, where it achieved £481,875.

£431,249 for Hurricane

Hurricane by Tracey EminHurricane © Tracey Emin 2007

Emin and singer George Michael first met at the Ivy restaurant in London in the mid-1990s, although they were already admirers of each other’s work. The pair later formed an “outrageous relationship” where they would tease each other mercilessly, recalled Michael’s former partner, Kenny Goss.

Michael and Goss owned many pieces of art by Emin, of which the painting Hurricane was one of Michael’s favourites. When Michael’s art collection was offered at Christie’s in London on 14 March 2019, Hurricane sold for £431,250 – over double its high estimate of £180,000. All the money raised from the auction was used to continue Michael’s philanthropic legacy.

£405,000 for I Think It's In My Head

I Think It’s In My Head by Tracey EminI Think It’s In My Head © Tracey Emin 2002

“Quilt-making has always been considered a craft. It’s never been held up in the realms of high art… [It] involves a lot of thought and love. Just the time involved in the process means many things are discussed and considered concerning life,” Emin said of her artistic process.

I Think It’s In My Head is a confessional piece fuelled by intense emotions, “sometimes fear sometimes love – lust – jealousy – hate”, as the artist ponders through her embroidered texts. The work sold for £405,000 at Sotheby’s in London on 5 March 2019.

£378,675 for I Listen To The Ocean And All I Hear Is You

(US$495,000)

I Listen To The Ocean And All I Hear Is You by Tracey EminI Listen To The Ocean And All I Hear Is You © Tracey Emin 2018

Emin has been producing neon artworks since 1995, turning snippets of her handwritten notes into illuminated installations. Growing up in the seaside town of Margate, Emin was surrounded by neon signs advertising fairground rides and shop fronts – now, she uses the same techniques to bring her thoughts and feelings to light.

I Listen To The Ocean And All I Hear Is You, created in 2018, sold for US$495,000 (£378,675) at Phillips in New York on 21 September 2018 – more than double its US$150,000-200,000 estimate.

Jasper Tordoff

Jasper Tordoff, Specialist[email protected]

Interested in buying or selling
Tracey Emin?

Browse artworks
Tracey Emin

Tracey Emin

91 works