On our hot list this week…

1. Lucian Freud’s hotly anticipated sale of Pregnant Girl at Sotheby’s  contemporary art evening on Feb 10th exceeded expectations. An estimate of around £7-10 million was given to the work, but on the evening of the auction, the painting soon reached a whopping £16.1 million. Pregnant Girl is Freud’s painting of his lover and mother of Bella and Esther Freud, Bernadine Coverly, who would go on to be immortalized in Esther’s book Hideous Kinky. Read more about the piece here. (via BBC)

2. It’s been a good week for British art. A day after Freud’s work far exceed estimations, Frank Auerbach‘s did the same. His painting of his former land lady Estella West, titled E.O.W. on her Blue Eiderdown V doubled its pre-sale estimate at Bonhams’ Post-War and Contemporary Art sale, fetching £2,042,500 – which is the highest price ever paid for one of the artists’ figurative works. Smaller works by Auberach also far exceeded expectations that night. There is an Auerbach exhibition on at the Tate Britain until the 13th March. (via Art Daily)

3. Women aren’t usually associated with the term ‘Old Master’ but, an upcoming exhibition at The Met (which made $948 million in revenue last year) might be about to change all that. The exhibition celebrates Vigée Le Brun’s prodigious talent, controversiality and ability to get-on in a very male dominated world (which actually, was thanks to the many female patrons she had – Marie Antoinette was of great assistance to the beginnings of her career.) Born of a peasant father and mother, she went on to travel and paint the aristocracy of most the capital cities of Europe and Russia. (via Met Museum)

4. Damien Hirst secretly donated a work of his, an untitled painting of Queen Elizabeth II (pictured) from his Spin series, to the nation; however, the nation hasn’t seen it… until now. Hirst donated the piece on 23rd March 2015, as the Government Art Collection could not afford another work by him (they already have one of his dot series). It has not been exhibited to the public yet, and art critics had been totally unaware of the painting’s existence. (via The Telegraph)

Hirst is also opening/re-opening his pharmacy-themed restaurant with collector and restaurateur Mark Hix, at Hirsts Newport Street Gallery in Vauxhall. Read more about that here.

5. You can’t avoid it, it happens whether you like it or not – a little like death. Today is Valentine’s Day, and in an effort to embrace it, The Guardian has put together a fascinating compilation of love letters from some of recent history’s most famous artists, from Frida Khalo to Jackson Pollock and Waldo Pierce. (Send round to lackluster lovers and spouses to give them inspiration). (via The Guardian)