British artist Tracey Emin's "My Bed" heads for auction

Artist Tracey Emin attends the UK Creative Industries Forum at the Royal Academy in London July 30, 2012. REUTERS/Neil Hall/Files

LONDON (Reuters) - Tracey Emin’s “My Bed”, complete with cigarette butts, crumpled sheets and underwear, is up for auction for the first time, Christie’s said on Wednesday.

Emin’s bed, which caused a sensation when it was first exhibited and raised questions about what was and was not art, is expected to sell for between 800,000 pounds and 1.2 million pounds ($1.34-2.02 million) when it goes on sale July, Christie’s said.

The installation, which Emin displayed at The Tate Modern in 1999 in a failed bid for that year’s Turner Prize, is being sold from the art collection of advertising tycoon Charles Saatchi. Proceeds will be used to finance free admission to the Saatchi Gallery in London, Christie’s said.

“It’s a self-portrait, but not one that people would like to see,” a press release from Christie’s quotes Emin as saying.

“... I took everything out of my bedroom and made it into an installation,” Emin says.

“And when I put it into a white space, for some people it became quite shocking. But I just thought it looked like a damsel in distress, like a woman fainting or something, needing to be helped.”

The installation has been seen in Japan, New York, Scotland, Spain and Switzerland.

($1 = 0.5952 British pounds)

Writing by Michael Roddy; editing by Jane Merriman