A previously unseen seml-portrait by Andy Warhol sold for £10.8m last night at Christies in London.

The portrait (above) was from a series of 11 highly regarded works, eight of which featured in a landmark retrospective at New York’s MOMA two years after his death in 1989.

Others are held by the Tate collection and in Munich and San Francisco, and only three have ever been at auction

The work has been in a private collection since 1974 and was only recently rediscovered and authenticated by the Andy Warhol Authentication Board.

Francis Outred, head of post-war and contemporary art at Christie’s Europe, said: “It has been an incredibly exciting journey to work with a previously unknown work by Andy Warhol, particularly one with such historic importance.”

The source image of Warhol with his hand to his mouth was first used in smaller life-sized works in 1966.

Initial predictions were that the painting would reach bids of £5m.

Major artworks have already generated mammoth prices during the past week, including £23 million paid on Friday evening at Sotheby’s for a work by Francis Bacon and £13 million for a Dali.

Watch Warhol explain his art: