Freud's Benefits Supervisor Resting, a depiction of one of the artists's regular models Sue Tilley, sold at Christie's in New York.

Freud’s Benefits Supervisor Resting, a depiction of one of the artists’s regular models Sue Tilley, sold at Christie’s in New York.

A Lucian Freud nude portrait has sold at auction for more than £35million after four bidders became locked in a battle to buy the modern masterpiece.

Benefits Supervisor Resting, a depiction of one of the artists’s regular models Sue Tilley, sold at Christie’s in New York.

The work, which went for £35.7million, had never been offered at auction before and was eventually bought by a bidder in the room after a four-way race drove the price up.

The British painter, a towering name in modern art, commands huge prices for his best work and last year a series of unpublished letters written while he was a student went for more than £100,000.

Freud, who died in 2011 aged 88, was the grandson of psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud and the brother of the late television personality Sir Clement Freud.

He was born in Berlin in 1922, but his Jewish family fled the city in 1933 and he become a British citizen in 1939.

The realist painter was educated at the Central School of Art, London, the East Anglian School of Painting and Drawing in Dedham and Goldsmiths College in London.

He was noticed for his talent early on in his life and, after a spell in the Merchant Navy in 1942, had his first one-man show in 1944.