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Famous Old Bag was pitched at £2000-3000 but climbed well above its estimate, ultimately taking £21,250 including buyer’s premium.

The 13 x 14in (33 x 35cm) pen, ink and watercolour drawing had previously been exhibited in the exhibition Milk Snatcher, Gerald Scarfe - The Thatcher Drawings at the Bowes Museum in Barnard Castle 2015. It is one of more than 100 drawings he made of the Prime Minister from the 1970s-'90s.

It was the second-highest selling lot at Wednesday’s sale which was devoted to five decades of Scarfe’s work, including his illustrations for the Disney animated feature Hercules (1997) and his many Sunday Times cartoons. The top seller was The Teacher, a drawing for the 1982 film adaptation of Pink Floyd’s The Wall which took £22,500 over a top estimate of £9000.

Low sales by lot

Overall the sale fell short of expectations with only 70 of the 132 works offered finding buyers. Among those unsold was the top-estimated lot, Scarfe’s 1964 drawing of Winston Churchill’s last appearance at the House of Commons. The charcoal depiction of the ailing politician at the end of his life was guided at £100,000-150,000.

Sotheby’s is still offering the unsold drawings from the auction and encourages potential buyers to contact specialist Philip Errington through details provided on its website.