Artist Tracey Emin was in the room to see her controversial creation My Bed shatter the record for one of her artworks at auction when it was sold for £2.54 million.
The 1999 Turner prize nomination, which features an unmade bed and a littered floor including empty vodka bottles, cigarette butts and discarded condoms, quadrupled the previous highest amount paid for a piece by the 50-year-old Margate artist when it was sold at Christie's in central London tonight.
A senior member of the auction house hinted it could end up on public display after being snapped up by an anonymous bidder.
Francis Outred, head of post-war contemporary art at Christie's, told a press conference after the sale: "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."
Emin, 50, was later said to be delighted at the sale of one of the key works of the 1990s Young British Artist (YBA) movement. She was seen to grin and hug a friend when Lot 19 was sold, before leaving a short time later.
My Bed was part of the Post War and Contemporary Art Evening Auction whose sales totalled almost £100 million, including Francis Bacon's Study For Head Of Lucian Freud, which sold for £11.5 million including buyer's premium.
The previous best sale price for a piece of Emin's work was £481,000, Mr Outred said.
Millionaire collector Charles Saatchi, who sold My Bed, made a more than 14-fold profit on a piece he paid £150,000 for in 2000.
He put it and several other pieces into the 75-lot auction to raise money for the Saatchi Gallery Foundation, according to Christie's. The Emin piece fetched a hammer price of £2.2 million, passing £2.5 million with buyer's premium.
Emin, 50, who went from rebel to establishment when she was made a CBE in the New Year Honours in 2012, first made an impression on the wider public outside the art world in 1997 with a drunken appearance on a television discussion show about the Turner Prize which ended with her pulling her microphone off and telling the audience: "I've had a really good night out."
Two years later, she was shortlisted for the prize and exhibited My Bed at the Tate Gallery.
It divided the critics but began the process of making her one of the country's most famous living artists.
Speaking at Christie's in central London last week ahead of the sale, she said she still stands by her work which "changed people's perceptions of art".
Jussi Pylkkanen, the auctioneer and president of Christie's Europe, said he had spoked to the artist after the sale and she had been "very, very happy".
He told the press conference: "I just caught Tracey at the Serpentine party, I just called her to see how she felt about things and she said she was absolutely delighted.
"She was very nervous going into the sale.
"Thanks everyone for supporting the sale of that object, it meant a huge amount to her.
"People wondered why she was so engaged in the process of selling that object but for her that was her biography, that was a statement, that was a self portrait.
"It is quite unusual actually to have an artist so involved in their own works that for them it is a sort of step into the next stage of their lives.
"For Tracey seeing that here at the top of the stairs ... it was incredibly meaningful."
Emin's work was one of four pieces which achieved a world record at the auction, whose 75 lots sold for a total of £99.4 million.
It included several pieces by Andy Warhol and Calcium Gluconate Injection by Emin's fellow YBA Damien Hirst, which fetched a hammer price of £450,000.