How Lucian Freud got into debt with the Kray twins
Artist owed gangsters £500,000 because of his gambling addiction
Britain's most renowned living artist, Lucian Freud, has told how he was once up to half a million pounds in debt to the 1960s gangland crimelords the Kray twins because of his gambling addiction.
Now 87, Freud has told how Ronnie and Reggie Kray "forced" money on him to feed his addiction. It was long before he became wealthy and so he was unable to repay them more than small amounts. (Today, it would be small change: when Freud's painting Benefits Supervisor Sleeping was sold at auction in 2008, it went for £17.2m - setting a world record for a work of art by a living artist.)
In an interview today with the Evening Standard, Freud confesses that he once cancelled an exhibition because he feared the Krays would demand bigger repayments if they saw he was selling his work.
Freud also told the paper that he was working on portraits of two of his favourite restaurateurs - Sally Clarke, who runs a restaurant and bakery in Kensington Church Street where he likes to have lunch, and Jeremy King, co-owner of The Wolseley on Piccadilly, another favourite haunt.
They had better not be late for their sittings. Freud revealed that he had enjoyed painting supermodel Kate Moss in 2002 when she was heavily pregnant - "She was interesting company and full of surprising behaviour," he said - but that she could be annoyingly late for sittings, "only in that way that girls are". ·
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