The bed is covered in empty vodka bottles, cigarette ends and even used condoms. The controversial piece was nominated for the Turner Prize in 1999.

Emin was reportedly delighted when it sold to an anonymous buyer, as it was alluded to that it could be on public display. Head of Contemporary Art, Francis Outred said: ''I think it will end up going to a very good place.''

''We can't announce it but I think it is going to end up somewhere important so watch this space for an announcement.''

In 2000, Charles Saatchi bought the bed for £150,000 and announced this year his plan to sell it. The iconic piece was made in Emin's Waterloo council flat in 1998.

Jussi Pylkkanen, the auctioneer and president of Christie's Europe commented on Emin's involvement in the sale explaining how ''for her (Emin) that was her biography, that was a statement, that was a self portrait.'' Francis Bacon again made an impact on the post-war and contemporary art scene last night, as Study For Head Of Lucien Freud sold for £11.5 million.